Food! Everything in Italy tastes fabulous...and better than any of its American counterparts. A new friend, Antoanella, has a theory that it is because the climate and soil are different, so things taste different. I think she's exactly right. Tanya and I came to this same conclusion while in Paris trying to figure out why their bread and butter were so divine. The pizza here is so much better than our pizza, even though it is made from the same basic ingredients. The crust is better, the sauce is better, the cheese is better. It is addictively good. In fact, I had it for breakfast this morning. Their gelato is so much better than our ice cream. It's creamier and the flavors are deeper and richer. My gelato theory is one I plan to test daily while in Italy...so many flavors, so little time! After all, any hypothesis I make about Italian food in general, and gelato in particular, should be subjected to rigorous analysis to provide a range of data, right? I would be remiss if I just made general assumptions without further indulging...uh, I mean testing.
And finally, I have to say more about Vera...and her friend Antoanella. While Venice is lovely and interesting, the best thing about Venice, and maybe all of Italy, is Vera. She is kind, loving, warm, and has made me feel more like a member of the family than a 2-night guest. I've tried to get her to let me take a picture so you could all see her, but she says she is not photogenic. While I doubt that's true, I'm sure no photograph could capture her true beauty. Also staying here is a longtime friend of Vera's named Antoanella. She has a truly warm heart and an understanding about people and the world that I really admire. I feel as though I have gained an Italian aunt and sister. I will miss them both when I leave tomorrow.
And now, today in pictures...
This is the Rialto, the oldest and most famous of the four bridges that span the Grand Canal in Venice.
This is a water bus...with passengers departing.
This is a water-bus stop. It's just like any other bus stop with routes and schedules posted inside and passengers waiting for the next one to arrive.
This is in San Marco Piazza. It's a corner where the palace and basilica meet. There is no way to get a whole photo of each. The palace is longer than the average city block.
This is half of San Marco's Basilica from the front. The right half is undergoing renovations. I absolutely love Byzantine architecture and this picture doesn't begin to do justice to the beauty of this building. I didn't go inside because the line was 2 hours long, although I desperately wanted to because the ceiling mosaics are supposed to be phenomenal. This building holds the remains of St. Mark, also known as Mark the Evangelist. If you still don't know who that is, mentioning his counterparts, Matthew, Luke, and John, should ring a bell.
A closer shot of detail above the door.
And an even closer shot of detail above one of the archways. Keep in mind, this is not a painting, it's mosaic tile. Amazing!
A beautiful glass door on the island of Murano.
Gondolas on the Grand Canal.
These are the gates of the glass factory on Murano, where they hand craft beautiful glasswork.
And this is some of their work.
I wandered down a back street in Murano and found this cute gnome garden.
Murano has glass statues in its squares all around the island.
Displaying the variety of today's fresh catch is pretty typical in Venetian restaurants.
I loved this corner sculpture of a dragon holding a ball of umbrellas.
It's which way? Venice is a labyrinth of tiny, twisting streets. Even with the map Vera gave me, I was often lost. In reality, you can go either way through a maze of streets to get to both the Rialto and San Marco from here, but signs like this are really confusing to the lost tourist.