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Eight Nights and Dazed in Italy, Part II

July 1-3, 2004

Venice 1 | Florence | Rome | Orvieto | Cinque Terre

Venice 2

Santa Elena solitude

A vaporetto bus-boat ride up the Basin of San Marco to this quiet, colorful residential area. Complete with a gelato shop, pleasant views across the harbor, few tourists and modest locals hanging out. Total population of old Venice: now 65,000, down from nearly 200,000 during the city's economic and religious heyday in the Middle Ages.

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Canal Knowledge

The streets of Venice, all connected somehow to the winding Grand Canal, Venice's 2-mile long, 150-feet-wide and 15-feet-deep "main street." Boats delivering people and products--and hauling away the trash. More than 400 bridges cross the city canals, including the 160-feet-long shop-filled Rialto Bridge, originally built in 1588.

The gondola rides are romantic, on 'em or watching 'em, day or night, with happy friends and helpful guides, singing or shaking gondoliers, rain or shine, with peace and quiet or lightning and thunder. Gondola bows for the anniversary couples.

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Lost and Happy

It's a small fish-shaped place surrounded by water, for cryin' out loud. Ya can't really get lost, even with its web of 2,000 narrow alleyways. Following the signs to landmarks eventually will take you "there," past gelato shops, playgrounds and markets to musical feasts with pasta primavera and seafood pasta. And to a canalside dinner with new friends from Medina and Austin.

Real lattes and sleepy dreams at Hotel al Piave, near St. Mark's Square (we think). And a CD of Vivaldi concerti per violino by the Interpreti Veneziani.

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To Venice 1: St. Mark's Square and Basilica, Campanile, Doge's Palace

Venice 1 | Venice 2 | Florence | Rome | Orvieto | Cinque Terre

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Copyright Gary and Donna Larson, Seattle, Washington. Updated Feb. 17, 2007.