Italy held a great many surprises for me. The free-flowing mixture of new information and confirmations of so many things I learned decades ago in world history classes was continuous throughout each day of our trip. During the days after our return from two weeks in a country visited by millions each year, countless reflections are racing through my mind. One memory unlikely to fade was ingrained into my mind as I sat just a few feet away from the famous original painting of the “Last Supper”. I can only imagine how many times I have looked at reproductions of this painting. But I’ve always viewed it with only a pitiable appreciation for the Biblical truths captured and conveyed by the artist’s portrayal of the emotional reactions of each disciple as Jesus spoke about upcoming events. No one knows exactly what the scene looked like, of course, but Leonardo da Vinci’s painting makes it seem as though he had been invited to join Jesus and the disciples that evening. I was surprised by the way this work of art stirred my heart.
Shortly after leaving the Convent of Santa Maria Della Grazie where the painting is heavily guarded and protected, the statue pictured above held yet another surprise. According to our guide, the locals refer to it as “the bottle and four glasses”. The large statue of Leonardo da Vinci in the center is surrounded by four smaller young men. (Only 3 of them is visible in my photo). The name is derived from the idea of the accomplished artist pouring himself into his young apprentices. Perhaps without knowing it, therein stands another depiction of a biblical teaching: discipleship.
I thought I had seen a lot of boats in my day, but the seemingly infinite number of them associated with the city of Venice revealed another surprise. Massive cruise ships assisted into harbor by tugboats seemed invisible to the myriad of smaller watercraft buzzing continuously through choppy waters created by wakes lingering behind each water taxi, water bus (vaporetto), ferry boat, speed boat and countless other boats with names unknown to me. The navigational skills of the Venetian “sailors” was amazing. Along the Grand Canal the traffic is no less hectic than motor traffic in cities like Milan, Florence or Rome. The the waterways which vary from large, open expanses cluttered with buoys and channel marking posts narrows into characteristic floating streets lined with homes, apartments and businesses. Small residential boats fill every available “parking space” as cars do in other cities. But these personal modes of transportation never cease to bounce up and down and back and forth while being parked. Along the narrow canals within the city large water busses, water taxis and Gondolas constantly move about, often within inches of each other working to enter or exit a small pier where passengers unload only to be replaced by more passengers on their way to see more sights, shop or eat delicious Italian food.
Even though this post obviously does not fit into any of my blog categories, I have decided to place it under “Fishing”. Surely at some point a resident of Venice has opened their front door and been greeted by a fish beached on the sidewalk since, as you can see in the picture above, the water literally enters the front door of Venetian homes.