The Trovato family reunion continued on to the iconic city of Venezia. Like Pompeii and Roma, Venezia is another one of those "seeing is believing places". I had always known of the famous city on the water that is Venezia but, of course, as soon as I saw the city for the first time, my immediate comment was "Wow! It's city on water". It just goes to show that, no matter how hard I try to acquire knowledge and sound intelligent, some pretty obvious and dopey things can escape my mouth from time to time.
The sightseeing highlight of our stay in Venezia was, hands down, St Mark's Cathedral. Let's be honest, there are no shortages of nice churches in Europe but St Mark's is one of the few that fall into the "yes I know it's another bloody church but you MUST see it" category. Gold leaf mosaics cover almost every square inch of this masterpiece and it easily rated in our top 5 churches of the trip. And believe me, we'd know a thing or two about churches! In the past 5 months, we've visited more churches than Pope Francis!
After our visit to St Mark's we decided to climb the tower in Piazza San Marco and take in the views from the observation deck where legends like Galileo had previously stood. Jess and I took our place in the lengthy queue to purchase tickets to the tower and told Mum and Dad to sit in the shade while we lined up. Just as we were close to the cash desk, the lady in front of us motioned for a group of 50 odd people to join her in the queue. Turns out she was a tour group leader and thought she could queue up on her own and hold over 50 spots for the rest of her group. As any Englishman versed in the fine arts of forming a queue would tell you, a person may only hold up to 5 places in a queue. This woman had clearly breached Article 7 of the Civil Code of Orderly Queuing. And we weren't having a bar of it.
I began to argue with her. Unsuccessfully. Partly because the woman's Italian was coated in a thick Eastern European accent and was difficult to understand, but mostly because she looked like she could kick my ass with relative ease! This woman was huge. She looked like a fridge with a head on it. And her hands suggested that she may have been a concreter prior to becoming a tour guide. Seeing that I was moments away from being beaten to a pulp, Jess called in Dad for reinforcement.
Now, a bit of a back story…. Dad's name is Emilio but everyone in Australia calls him Bill - because Aussie mentality dictates that anybody with an ethnic sounding name longer than two syllables is asking for a nickname! To say that Bill is a bit of a grump is about as much of an understatement as it is to state that Harry O'Brien needs to visit a psychiatrist. Bill has such a short fuse that he makes Kevin Muscat look like the love child of Ghandi and the Dalai Lama! He also loves to argue more than a politician during Question Time.
Dad swore to us that, while he was on this trip with us, "Angry Bill" was back home in Melbourne and we'd only be exposed to "Nice Emilio". We vowed to hold him to his word. But just this once, while I was up against the Colossus, Emilio was asked to unlock the gate and let Billy Boy run free! You should've seen the twinkle in his eye as he walked up to the fridge and readied himself for war. Christmas had come early for Dad.
The Kelvinator threw a few good lefts but, very early on, it became clear she was out of her depth against a battle hardened war horse like Billy Boy. Bill had the match sewn up by half time and the fridge looked shot. The next 2 minutes of banter was just a percentage booster as Billy walked away with the 4 points and we were on our way up the tower!
Bill 1. Fridge 0.
One battle that Dad couldn't win, however, was the battle to correctly navigate the streets of Venezia. The place was a maze! I'm sure the town planners had a twisted sense of humour. Every street looked the same and it wasn't uncommon for what appeared to be a main road to simply come to an abrupt dead end with no alternative turnoff street in sight. Venezia had us all stumped. Except for Jess. Her sense of direction is unbelievably good. I sometimes joke that she is a descendant of an aboriginal tribe. At times, it's as if she can almost sniff her way to the correct path. Within 24 hours of arriving in Venezia, she was navigating her way around without the map and acting as our very own satnav. Anybody who has been to Venezia will tell you just how hard that is to do. She would be a kidnapper's nightmare! It's simply impossible to get her lost. And if you try to lose her, you are attempting mission impossible. It may take her a while but, believe me, she WILL find you. Lucky me, hey?
Next stop: Verona