As we headed to San Marco or St. Mark's Basilica, we walked through the narrowest of streets and up and over the side canals, occasionally finding a gondola (which we understand are really expensive, up to 100 euro ($150) for a ride that could only fit 4.
I think I could have window shopped there all day. Every store front was filled with beautiful masks, clothes, or souvenirs. There were fruits stands throughout as well, and boy were they tempting!
And sometimes, just around the corner, you'd find the strangest thing!
And then, we were there. The mask store! I could hardly believe my eyes when we went in. It was so small, but every inch of wall space was covered with the most beautiful and elaborate masks used for Carnival.
(I made sure to buy a beautiful photo book of the costumes people wear. They are breathtaking!) So we started trying them on.
This is the mask for doctors. It came about during the plague when doctors had to tend to the dead. They were able to fill the "nose" with aromas to cover the horrible stench and it was believed that it would prevent the doctor from catching the disease.
This is one of the masks I bought. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. We also bought a red sequined mask with a handle, a white eye mask for the girls, and John got one like a jester. They're all stunning.
From the store, we headed off to St. Mark's. The Basilica is amazing and I found out after we left that the interior is almost all gold. I knew that we weren't planning on doing any tours--and Griffin was counting on this fact--but I really wish we had seen it. (I have since bought a book so I could have some pictures.)
This square is known for its friendly pigeons. They have no fear and will land on you if you have food. Even with my extreme fear of birds, I thought I'd give it a try. In theory, it was a great idea. In reality, it was this.
They are nuts! They just came at you from everywhere. Some of us were braver than others (namely me!).
On John's arm
After leaving the square--and the pigeons behind us--we headed toward the Bridge of Sighs.
This bridge connects the courthouse with the jail. It was named by Lord Byron and comes from the suggestion that prisoners would sigh at their final view of Venice before their imprisonment.
Now it was off to take a water taxi! Pat headed up the negotiation process since there were so many of us (16). We loaded into one that looked just like the boat in the third Indiana Jones movie and made our way back to the Grand Canal.
We had about 45 minutes until our train left, so we took advantage of this little shaded area with a fountain. So we enjoyed gelato and the shade while we got some souvenirs. John took the girls to get t-shirts and I got a small ceramic mask for the Christmas tree and a Venetian flag (red and gold with a Griffin on it) for Grif's room.
Terri and baby Joshua
Terri feeding Gabriel gelato
While I was gone, Griffin made his way into the fountain to cool off. It was what he later called "heaven." As I watched him in the fountain, it made me think of him playing in the fountain in Montreal last year on our trip to the International Fireworks Competition with the Chris Hopkins family.
Montreal, 2007. The same outfit except for the shoes!
We caught our train with no problem and headed for home. Unfortunately, we had a small situation when we got to Bologna. I thought I had left my phone on the train when we got off and asked Ian to run back and get it. As I waited for him, the doors to the train closed and I started pounding on the doors yelling in English that my son was on and needed to get off. Of course, no one understood me. Ian was on the other side of the doors pounding as well. After a few moments of panic and trying to figure out what we would do if it took off with him on the train, the door opened and he got off. (He later told me that after pounding for a bit, he saw a button that would open the doors, so he pushed it.) I realized that I did have my phone (it was tucked in a little bag), but we had left Griffin's hat on the train. He was devastated, but we were all relieved to at least have Ian with us!
We ate at a different restaurant, enjoying a bit of the Euro 2008 tourney. Ian ordered a pizza and was surprised to get the following:
Day 9 would take us to visit Pat's home-building site in Montombraro.