Before our trip, everyone said, “You don’t really need to spend much time in Venice because there isn’t a whole lot to do.” Well, that is true to a certain extent, but what they forgot to say was how beautiful that city is. It’s like walking through a giant postcard. Walt Disney must have spent time in Venice before creating Disneyland. It’s one of the few places on earth with no cars, and that in itself is truly something special.
Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Galileo. The history in these places is so rich and deep, I felt like I was getting smarter just being there. Florence is also beautiful, a degree less picturesque than walking through Venice, but what it lacks is made up in legend and art.
We watched several World Cup games in Florence, on a giant Sony PSP. After Brazil beat Japan, the fans flooded the streets in celebration. Everywhere we went, there were Brazil fans and a samba band nearby.
And then there’s Rome. A few steps in any direction and you’re standing on something you’ve read about in some book some time ago. It really seems unreal to be standing in front of so much history. The stones hold thousands of years of untold secrets.
Walking into the colosseum, the scale is actually much smaller than I imagined. The movie Gladiator clearly exaggerated. But the basic violent premise is still there. Our tour guide told us of “working ladies” who were only allowed on the top level, and that because women weren’t allowed to use the bathrooms, they tossed their waste over the edge to the street. Lovely.
We spent a day wandering through the Vatican. It would have been best to be wheeled around on a cot so I could stare at the ceilings the entire time. They put more on the ceilings than anywhere else. The Sistine Chapel, like the colosseum, was smaller than expected, impressive nonetheless. They keep guards there who constantly declare “no photos” and “shhhh!” The point of the shushing is to keep the place quiet and reverent. But the only thing you could hear was their shushing.
And from Italy, we returned to the states, a week before the Italians would win the World Cup and Zidane would take his place in history with the headbutt that rang around the world.