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Italy Day 3: The day Venice smelled like Licorice

We get a short song from our goldola driver.
Emma scratches her head and says she thinks she has dandruff.  Trish and I look at each other and groan. We both know that means she probably has lice.  Again.   Trish, the expert, parts Emma’s hair and sees the telltale signs.

Dammit!  This was not how we expected to start the day.  But in all our travel this year we’ve had no sickness.  If this is the worst, we can’t complain. (But we do anyway.)

The Pharmacist miraculously understands my pronunciation of lice:  Pidocchio. He sells us a spray and lice comb just like we are accustomed to using at home.  The spray kills the lice, and then you have to comb it out twice a day for a week.  Trish is a champ, and does all the combing.  

Oh crap, Trish finds lice in the girls hair.

Even with the windows open we all gag on the strong anise fumes of the lice spray.  The smell follows us all day.  Venice, to us, smells like licorice.  Everywhere. It’s almost noon, and we get our day started.

Murano is a small island off the main city that housed some of the most advanced glass blowing craftsmen of the Ventian Republic.  They were like prisoner-kings, with special privledges and wealth, but forbidden to leave.  Today, Murano is predictably touristy, but glass blowing sounds fun, and we are hoping to buy pendant lights for our kitchen table.

The glass blowing capital of Italy:  Murano
Murano is cute.  We were told to expect hawkers, fake glass-blowing demonstrations, hard-sells of cheap glass figurines, and ‘wholesale’ glass crap.  But we find little of that.  The small stores have some amazing stuff, not that we would buy any of it.  But a lot of it is definitely cool.   And it all smells like licorice.

Still, the kind of pendant lamps we wanted can’t be found and there doesn’t seem to be a glass-blowing demo anywhere on the main strip.  Lily pouts because she was promised a glass-blowing demo.  And she has a right to be disappointed. We are too.

Still glowing inside.
As luck would have it, the last place we look has a glass blowing demo for five Euro.  We’ll take it!  It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad, we needed to accomplish our goal and make the long ride to Murano worthwhile.  The demo is pretty good, enough to keep the girls wide-eyed for 20 minutes as molten sand is spun and blown into various shapes that smell like licorice.

Trish finds a family photo op in the brief sunshine.
We fill up on some bad pizza outside the water terminal, and the girls are allowed to buy glass necklaces that  they choose meticulously.  We take the long ride to San Marco square, where we hope the end-of-the-day lines are shorter.

Creepy preserved hand in the treasury of San Marco Basilica
And they are!  Inside, the church is covered from top to bottom in recently restored mosaic made of millions of tiny pieces.  There are several exhibits of early-renaissance art and a treasury with ornamental gold artifacts from the crusades, and a cache of hundreds of bone fragments from various saints, including a whole hand.  We love it, except it smells like licorice.

The start of our gondola ride, near Rialto bridge.
And finally, we go for the much anticipated, but potentially disappointing gondola ride.  We grab a boat outside Rialto bridge and select the short trip for a hundred Euro (zoinks!).   Riding at the water line in a tippy boat on the main canal is pretty scary with the water busses and taxi’s going every which way.   As we pull of into the smaller canal, it starts to pour rain and thunder.  It’s cold but fun.

Thundershowers on the goldola ride add excitement.
We stop for 10 minutes under a bridge, but the rain doesn’t really lessen.  We get back to the dock soaked, but laughing at the experience.  Just as we are pulling in, the skies open up in a brilliant, blinding, display of sunlight on the water.  Georgeous.  Licorice.

Sun breaks through the clouds.
Night comes, and we look for a good restaurant.   We find a small place called Osteria Barababao, decorated in creepy pictures, devil masks and a big ‘666’ over the bar that makes us devil-worshipers feel at home.  The lemon-marinated fresh anchovies with parmesan and pear salad is magnficient.  At the urging of the bartender, Trish orders some Prosecco and gets a little drunk on our last night in Venice.

We eat Gelatto and it begins to rain again.  At the hotel, we finally scrub the anise smell out of the girls hair and do the ritual combing.   Venice was great fun, but we are ready to see Rome tomorrow after a long nights sleep.  We dream of licorice.

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