Wedding Pictures – Part I

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1 Gondola

Our wedding pictures have arrived!  In true modern Italian fashion, we met our photographer in St. Mark’s Square for the hand-off of a USB that contains hundreds of beautiful (at least we think so!) pictures.

We have culled these down to 15 to give you a flavor of the day.  They are quite large, so we are posting in three parts so we don’t crash anyone’s email (I crashed mine when I got excited and tried to download too many at once).

We will upload more onto Facebook.  For some reason, I can add more there, so there will post about 35 pictures there if you want to see more.  (Just go to my Facebook page – if you can’t see, you may need to “friend” me.  It should be on my page, or you can go to “Photos” and then “Albums” and look for the Wedding Album.)

We also picked up our DVD, which we think is the best movie we’ve ever seen.  We can’t wait to show everyone back home.

We hope you enjoy these pictures as much as we have!

Love, Christy & Frank

2 Entrance   4 Matromoni

9 Mayor   8 nervous

A Corner of Venice: Gheto Novo

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Today we took a little-known tour of Venice’s Jewish Ghetto. It was sobering and fascinating and one of the best days we’ve had.

In the 1500s, the Council of 10 governing body in Venice decided that Jewish people had to live in their own area that was separated from the rest of the town. They assigned them an area that was surrounded by canals and near today’s train station in Cannaregio. Like most of Venice, you had to reach this area by a little bridge, but that made it easier to add a gate (see picture above showing fortified walls and where gate used to be). The area was near the foundry, which was called the geto (pronounced “jeto”). With mispronunciation, it became “ghetto” and then used throughout history for future areas where Jews were isolated.

The gates were open during the day – and anyone could come and go. But at night, everyone had to be back in their place, and the gates were locked. At its height, over 5,000 Jews lived there. It is not a very big space, so they had to build up and add more floors as they grew. So these are some of the tallest buildings in Venice. In Jewish tradition, there can be nothing above a Synagogue, so they built their Synagogues on the top floors.

One thing I thought was interesting was that Jewish people arrived from all over (in some cases, from worse persecution elsewhere). They still wanted to maintain their own cultural identities, so there ended up being nationalities within the ghetto with separate synagogues – so a Spanish synagogue, a Turkish synagogue, and Eastern European synagogue, etc. – there are 5 total, all dating to the 1500s. We got to tour three of these synagogues, led by a guide who still lives in this area. They were beautiful and moving. My favorite part was in the Spanish synagogue, where they had a marble floor plan with a pattern. All was perfect, but one square of the pattern in a very visible area was clearly out of place – a mistake. The guide said it was on purpose to show humility – and that our talents are not from ourselves, but from God. I loved that message.

There also is a small museum on the Campo de Gheto Novo that explains the history of the Ghetto. During World War II, the Nazis rounded up most of the inhabitants and shipped them north. Over 200 people were shipped out and only 8 returned. There is a memorial in the campo that lists the names and ages of those who were deported – whole families ranging from babies to the elderly. There is a retirement home in the campo where one of the young girls who returned (one of the 8) now lives – the last survivor from that time.

It was all very emotional. We were so moved by this area and this tour. We were honored that the guide would share her stories with us.

We ended our day with lunch in a restaurant the guide recommended – called Gam-Gam Kosher. It was wonderful. They have Italian food but also Middle Eastern (like hummus, falafel, and baba ganoush). We ordered a bunch of appetizers and feasted with delight, washed down with Israeli wine.

Then we happened upon a Kosher bakery – and guess what? It is called Volpe! So we went in and introduced ourselves and bought cookies and bread. We also shopped and talked to the merchants, who seemed genuinely to want to spend time and explain their craft, whether art or jewelry.

It was a chance to slow down from the tourist bustle, reflect, ache with sadness from the stories we heard, but also smile and laugh with the people we met who wanted to share their lives with us. It was truly a special day.

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A Clocktower – and a Jug of Wine

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We have just a week and a half left in Venice and are so sad to have to move on. Our next stop is Tuscany. But first, we have some major sightseeing to do here. We spent the first part of our visit getting ready for the wedding, so now we are running down our list of places we want to see in Venezia.

This weekend, we had a pretty interesting tour that definitely was off the beaten path – to the inside of the clocktower in St. Mark’s Square. This is not in any guidebook we have found, but Frank stumbled upon a mention of it on the Internet. So we googled and found that the local museum offered tours for 12 Euro. We signed up and had a nearly private tour with one other couple. Fascinating.

The Clocktower Keeper

Venice built the clocktower in the 1490s. It was state of the art at the time, measuring hours, minutes, the movement of the sun and moon, and even astrological signs. But to keep it all running, the clockkeeper had to live in the tower with his family (like the lighthouse keeper). Can you imagine trying to sleep with these very loud tick-tocks going on in the next room? The clockkeeper and his family lived inside the clock until 1998, when things became more automated.

So – we got to see the inner workings of the clock and the rooms where the family lived. We entered via a door I never had noticed before, which was locked behind us. We wound our way up a steep spiral staircase to each level and finally emerged through a submarine-like door on the roof, where there are statues that strike the hour. What a fantastic view of St. Mark’s Basilica next door and the rest of St. Mark’s Square!

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My favorite part was the story of the Magi that used to be part of the clock. In the old days, they would come out on the hour and circle under a picture of the Madonna and Baby Jesus and nod as they went by. But the Austrians, who took over in the 1700s, decided to turn the clock “digital.” To do that, they replaced the Magi with big wheels with numbers on them. So every five minutes, the wheel spins to show a new time, the hour in Roman numeral, the minute in regular numbers – III:05, III:10, III:15, etc. That was very modern for the time. From our guide, it was apparent that the Venetians were horrified that anything would replace the Magi, so twice a year at Epiphany (January 6) and Ascension Day (approximately 40 days after Easter), a technician physically removes the big number wheels and puts the Magi back in place. On that day, every hour, the Magi once again greet Baby Jesus. During the rest of the year, the Magi live in the clocktower.

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And A Jug of Wine

And, in probably one of the most interesting shops we have visited, we found a place that sells keg wine by the jug. You go in and buy a plastic 2 liter jug for 30 cents and then pick your wine. We chose Chianti for 2.40 Euros per liter. The shopkeeper took a spout, like from a keg of beer, and filled up our plastic jug. Frank asked what year our Chianti was, and the shopkeeper answered, “It was just delivered last week!” Needless to say, it isn’t exactly the best wine we’ve ever had, but it certainly is the cheapest and most fun. And they have all flavors – although probably all exactly the same and probably made by the guy’s uncle in his basement. Tomorrow, we may go back for 2 Euro Malbec.

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Wedding Week Wrap-Up on Torcello

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There is a little island way out in the Venetian Lagoon – even past Burano. It is peaceful, beautiful, not crowded and boasts a restaurant that has played host to nearly every member of the British Royal Family and countless celebrities. It is part of a locanda (little inn) that has just 6 rooms. Ernest Hemingway even lived there for several months while he wrote one of his books. It is owned by the famous Cipriani Family – who have a very expensive and fancy hotel on Guidecca near Venice (where George Clooney and group stayed for his wedding). They also own Harry’s Bar. But they have a little known (to most people) outpost on this tiny island. We thought lunch at Locanda Cipriani would be a perfect end to our wedding week.

But first, a bit of history . . .


The Rest of the Story

A few years ago, I had never heard of Torcello. My parents and I (pre-Frank) were excitedly making our way down the River Sile toward the Venetian Lagoon aboard a self-drive houseboat we had rented for the week. We would spend a week navigating the various islands of Venice. On that afternoon, we finally cleared the final lock before entering the Lagoon and – oh my goodness. All we could see was marsh, water, and posts of wood standing up in the air – for miles and miles. The boat base had given only one instruction – the briccola (the posts of wood) have a white square on one side. Whatever you do, make sure you can always see that square. On the other side may be just one inch of water. Our houseboat putted along at maximum 5 miles per hour. We were steering from the top deck, which was fitted out with plastic deck furniture (even the Captain’s chair). We looked like the Beverly Hillbillies come to Venice by boat.

But we were excited and drove straight toward what we had been assured was a safe mooring on Burano. But – it was completely full. OK – we’ll try the second place they suggested. But it was under construction. By then the sun was going down. We were desperate to find a place to stay the night. We had passed Torcello (the farthest island in the Lagoon) on the way in and remembered it had a water taxi stop. So we putt-putted up to the water taxi stop and tied up our lines. The vaparetto driver jumped off his boat and animatedly gestured in Italian, but my mother and I pleaded our case that it was getting dark and we had nowhere to go. So he finally said ok. Daddy jumped off to scout out where we were and returned with a glowing report of a half dozen nice restaurants full of people. It looked like a great stop and we wondered why we were the only ones here. We decided to celebrate with a glass of wine before heading down the path to a nice dinner.

We kept noticing water taxi after water taxi leave full of people. Good – let the crowds head back to Venice. We’re locals here.  As we walked down the path to dinner, it got darker and darker. We saw NO people at all, only cats. There were no lights. We passed one restaurant completely dark and closed up. Then a second just the same. Daddy assured us that only an hour before, they had been full of festive diners. It was very eerie. As we passed a third place, someone peeked out a window and quickly closed the shutters. Where were we? Finally, we spied the Locanda Cipriani with a light in the window. Whew. We knocked on the door and they looked completely shocked to see us and asked, “Where did you come from?” We said we were on a boat tied up to the water taxi stop. Alas, they were having a private party (which looked to be high security – probably why they were so shocked to see us), so no room.

By this time, a swarm of mosquitoes rose up and drove us back to the boat. We had to turn off all the lights and sit on top while we hoped the mosquitoes flew out. With a flashlight, I read from the guidebook that Torcello only has a population of about 20 – literally, all those people Daddy saw had left! What’s more – the population had swelled at one time to 20,000, but they had fled due to the malaria outbreak brought by mosquitoes. We went down below, locked all the doors, and didn’t see a soul until morning. However, it was a beautiful spot and turned out to be one of favorite stories of the trip.

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And Today

I am happy to report that the Locanda Cipriani was lovely. When you walk in, it almost feels like a log cabin with a wonderful smoky smell. The walls are lined with pictures of the famous people who have been there – even a thank you note from the Queen Mother. The entrance room opens up into a beautiful sunny dining room overlooking a garden that also has tables. The food was outstanding – my favorite was green pasta taglioni with a béchamel sauce baked au gratin, one of their specialities. And for dessert, they flamed crepes Suzette tableside (one of my all-time favorites).

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Torcello also has the oldest church in Venice, dating to the 6th century. It has magnificent mosaics and feels more spiritual than some of the other, more crowded churches. We also climbed their belltower, which gave us an incredible view of the Lagoon. Lastly, we explored the churchyard, which, believe it or not, has the throne of Atilla the Hun – right there on the lawn.

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It was a very special place to spend the end of our wedding week.

If you are in Venice and head out to Burano, we highly recommend taking the “T” vaparetto a little farther out to Torcello. You will be happy you did.

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Mass – with a Gregorian Chant

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We took a little excursion for church today – to the Island of San Maggiore. It is right across from St. Mark’s Square (a 3-minute vaparetto ride) and is very small, with just a marina, monastery and church.

The church itself is pretty impressive – was designed by Palladio (who started a whole architecture movement) and includes paintings by Tintoretto and a crucifix by Brunelleschi (who designed our favorite Dome in Florence). But we were there for Mass, which we had read featured Gregorian chants by the monks.

When we arrived, a sign at the front announced that Mass would be in a side chapel for winter. The sign instructed us to go to the high altar and take the door on the right and go up the stairs. At the altar, we saw a very narrow door and ancient stone steps that wound in a spiral up, up, and up. We haltingly ascended and emerged into a little chapel that was surrounded on three side by wooden choir stalls, with individual seats for the monks to sit, with elaborate wood in between (like separate little thrones) and the name of the monk in a frame above each seat. There were no pews or other seats, so we stood there a little confused at first, until a priest pointed for us to sit WITH the monks! (At this point, we weren’t exactly sure what we were getting into, but just smiled and nodded.)

Soon, monks that ranged in age from early 20s to very elderly came in, one by one, dressed in black robes with shaved heads. A few other parishioners came as well. We had been to Mass in Florence so were a little more experienced this time and knew how to follow along with the readings (all in Italian), when to say “Pace” (“Peace”) and shake hands, and when to pray. But to have all that accompanied by these spiritual chants was very moving.

There were only about a dozen people in the congregation, and I think every one of us had tears in our eyes at some point. It is amazing how God is able to communicate even when we don’t all speak the same language.

P.S. – Afterwards, we took an elevator to the top of the belltower – incredible views of the Lagoon and St. Mark’s Square.

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Just Married!

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image3 Marzo 2015 (Venezia) – The sun was shining, the sky was blue – what a glorious day for a wedding!

We have posted a few pictures below (that we took with our phones). But most of the day we just soaked it all in – followed around by our own personal paparazzi, so more professional pictures and video to come later.

Here are the highlights:

Rehearsal Dinner

We had our own unique rehearsal dinner with 5 Euro pizza and 4 Euro wine. We decided to handwrite our vows to each other on a homemade scroll (since we didn’t have a printer). We set everything up and practiced a few times, except reading the vows – which we saved for the ceremony so they would be a surprise to each other. It was a perfect way to relax before the big day.

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One of my favorite moments was the morning of the wedding – walking through the busy fish market on my way to the salon, while fishmongers did a sing-song trying to sell their wares. It was so uniquely Venice – not too many brides probably have that experience!

Stefano (who did my hair a couple of weeks ago) was back on the job and fixed me with a soft up-do with flowers that matched my bouquet. All of the flowers were delivered to the salon, which is directly across from Palazzo Cavalli (city hall), so it made it all very festive.

Gondola to Palazzo Cavalli

The hour came, and Frank and I walked hand-in-hand back through the fish market to the gondola stand. We were due at city hall in 30 minutes and would meander through the small back canals to get there. Just us with no photographer, so we could reflect on the meaning of the day. We were so happy and so excited. (The pictures we have are selfies, which is why they are a little off-center.)

Finally, we arrived in front of Palazzo Cavalli, where our photographer and videographer were waiting on the dock to film our arrival. The gondolier circled a few times, while our paparazzi ran from dock to dock yelling instructions. Our official day had begun.

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Palazzo Cavalli

We met our wedding planner, Chiara D’Angelo of Exclusive Italy Weddings, on the quay. Chiara has been the best – from helping us meet up with Bruno in Naples to obtain our documents to helping us schedule each moment of this amazing day. She and her team have been a pleasure to work with, and we could not have done this wedding without them.

Chiara ferried us into the Palazzo, where a school group was on a field trip so all applauded when we walked in. We went up the stairs to the tune of Vivaldi and realized it was our violin and cello duo already set up. I think our smiles grew even bigger.

The Ceremony

Before the more traditional ceremony, we started in a small antechamber and had to declare ourselves to the Mayor and take certain oaths. Then we moved into the ceremony room as the music started. Frank stood at the front, and I slowly walked toward him to Wagner’s “Marcia Nuziale” (“Here Comes the Bride”).

Then we had to say take the official, legal vows, such as “Do you take this man/women?” – the answer being “Si.” All of this was in Italian with an English interpreter.

Then the exchange of rings and a Bible reading from 1 Corinthians 13 (Love is Patient and Kind . . . ). These verses have special significance to me because they are traditionally read at any wedding of a Kappa Alpha Theta. I have read this passage at the wedding of many of my sisters and could feel them cheering me on as I read at my own wedding.

And then the part we had really been waiting for – our vows that we had handwritten the night before. It was finally time to share them. It was very emotional.

We finished up by officially signing our wedding certificate in front of the Mayor, while our duo played Handel’s “Water Music.” And then were declared husband and wife. Our duo started up with “That’s Amore” while we kissed and had our first dance – “When the moon meets your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore . . . .”

The ceremony was supposed to be streamed on the Internet to be played back by family and friends, and we looked up into the camera in the corner and greeted everyone at home. (Alas, we found out that this part did not work – so we may all just have to wait for the professional version.)

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The Palazzo Cavalli is on the Grand Canal with a balcony that has a stunning view of the Rialto Bridge. We had our wedding portrait made there and also had pictures with all of the dignitaries that were part of our ceremony.

Chiara and group told us to wait 5 minutes before exiting the building – they would go first and have the cameras set up. So we waited and slowly emerged, while everyone yelled “Auguri” (congratulations) and threw confetti. What a fun moment!

Taxi Ride

Then we boarded a beautiful wooden water taxi boat with our photographer and videographer. We stood up in the back and felt like movie stars making our way down the Grand Canal. The sky was so blue, tourists on vaparettos cheered as we went by, and we could not stop smiling and laughing. We were married!

The driver took us down the Grand Canal and out to the bigger Canal by St. Mark’s Square, so our photographers could get pictures with all of Venice as the background. He drove slowly around in a circle, as we kissed and were filmed from every angle.

St. Mark’s Square

Finally, we pulled up to the dock, where Chiara was there to meet us. We slowly made our way (with photographer and videographer) through St. Mark’s Square, where we posed for many pictures – from our photographer – but also from dozens of random tourists who all seemed so happy to be part of our moment. I think some even were crying.

Caffe Florian

The Florian is a cafe that has been on St. Mark’s Square since 1720. It is special to me because my parents first took me there, and I remember them dancing to the Florian Orchestra. I took Frank back there a couple of years ago, and it was one of our favorite spots. So my family arranged for us to have our first toast there. They were all in on it – my parents, my sister, Cindy, and her family, and Aunt Barbara, Uncle VA, and Aunt Jan from Texas. My parents and Cindy even sent the napkins from their weddings to be used during our toast. It was a very special moment.

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Ristorante Quadri

Then it was across the Square for our Wedding Lunch at Ristorante Quadri. It is a famous restaurant that has earned a Michelin star and, at times, been called the best in the world. Our paparazzi took pictures as we sat down and then left us alone, so we could relax and enjoy the rest of the day. We had a 7-course tasting menu (with wine pairings) that took all afternoon. We had a private dining room all to ourselves with a window overlooking St. Mark’s Square. It was truly a moment in time.

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At the end of the day, we walked back through the streets of Venice to our little apartment. We stopped off in a church near St. Mark’s Square and lit a candle for our new marriage and prayed for our families. We feel so blessed and thankful for each one of you.  What a very happy day!

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An Announcement!

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Frank and I are thrilled to announce that we are getting married tomorrow! We wanted to share our news and some details.

Wedding Day

The big day is Tuesday, March 3rd at high noon in Venice. This day is extra special because it also was the wedding date of my maternal grandparents (Virgil & Estelle Fielden).

A gondola will pick us up near our apartment on the Grand Canal at 11:15 am and take us under the Rialto Bridge to Palazzo Cavalli (city hall) – photo below with the blue and white poles. Our photographer and videographer will be waiting on the dock to film our arrival.

By the way, all weddings in Venice are required to be at Palazzo Cavalli, so if a couple gets married elsewhere in Venice, they first must have a legal ceremony at Palazzo Cavalli. (So all the famous people you know who married in Venice got married right in this spot, too!)


The Ceremony

The Mayor of Venice will perform the ceremony, which will last about 20 minutes. It will be in both Italian and English. We will have to make several legal declarations, then read our vows, exchange rings, and sign the official documents. At that point, we will be legally married – both in Italy and the US.

We also have arranged a violin/cello duo to accompany our big moments. We have some classical pieces and of course the traditional entrance of “Marcia Nuziale” – “Here Comes The Bride.” Our final song (and first dance) will be an old favorite – “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s Amore . . .”

Wedding Lunch

Following the ceremony, we will travel by water taxi down the Grand Canal (with our photographer and videographer) to St. Mark’s Square. We will stop for an aperitif at the famous and historical Caffé Florian, where I first went with my parents many years ago – they have sent napkins from their own wedding for us to use with our toast.

We then will move across the Square to Ristorante Quadri for our wedding lunch. It is ranked as one of the best restaurants in Italy – has even earned a Michelin star! That’s where our paparazzi leave us, so we can just relax and enjoy the afternoon.

Something Old, Something New . . .

I will be using a piece on my mother’s wedding lace and the handkerchief she carried in her wedding as part of my bouquet – my something “borrowed.” I will wear the garter from my sister’s wedding – my something “blue.” Our friend, Janet, gave me a handmade lace handkerchief from Florence, which is my something “new.” And I will be wearing my grandmother’s pearls (from Lily Veness Tinnes) for my something “old.”

We have been regularly skyping, FaceTiming, and talking to both of our families, who are all in on the action from the USA. It has been fun to plan and share with them. And we will have a special celebration with them on our return. (It has also been funny to explain to people here that we are “eloping” – there is not an Italian term for this, which has led to some confusion at first – but the universal response we get is “Perfecto!” or “Ahh, romantico!”



We have a request of all of our family and friends. We ask you – wherever you are – to say a little prayer for us as we start our new life together and to think about us tomorrow and in the next few days. You are all very special to us.

Love, Christy & Frank

P.S. – Watch the blog for more pictures!


My New Italian Family

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We have such a fun day today because we had some unexpected visitors – some of Frank’s family from Sicily! We had sent them our itinerary since we will be there in May. It turned out Frank’s cousin’s daughter, Evelina, was in Milano for a conference (she is a dentist in Siracusa) and decided to make a quick trip over the Venezia. She called her son, Antonino, to meet her. Antonino is in dentistry school in Albania. Venice was a central spot, so they came for the weekend. Then they saw the email we had sent and realized we were here. So we linked up and spent the day together.

Family History

We started at our apartment and spent the morning piecing together family history and writing out family trees on the Buccheri side (Frank’s mother). They speak much better English than we do Italian, but we still had to consult the dictionary a few times to get things straight.

Santa Lucia

Then we set out to find the relics of Saint Lucia, who is the patron saint of Siracusa. She was born and died there (in the 4th century) and, to their minds, rightfully belongs back in Sicily. But the Doges of Venice bought her (no doubt in an underhanded scheme) so she is here instead. They only have one finger of hers in Siracusa. Every year in December, the whole town parades through the streets to honor her, and a couple of years ago, Venice even flew her down by helicopter for the celebration. But she returned to Venice and here she stays.

So when someone from Siracusa visits Venice, they make a pilgrimage to the church where Saint Lucia rests. (This was fascinating, as it was not in any of our American guidebooks – I think we have now surpassed Rick Steves.) We all set out and trekked over to the Church of San Geremia. Sadly, it closed right before we got there, but we could look in the window and see Saint Lucia’s remains up on the altar in a glass case. Frank and I will go back there to pay our respects. (When I researched her a little more, I found out that Saint Lucia is celebrated throughout the world, and several countries have a day honoring her.)

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Night on the Town

We finished with a fantastic dinner of squid (seppie) sitting in its own black ink at Trattoria Alla Madonna in San Polo.  When Frank and I went there before, we were placed in the “tourist” room at the front of the restaurant.  With two Italians in tow, we got to walk right through to the back room reserved for locals.  We ended the night with a little limoncello and dancing to a fiddle player on the top of the Rialto Bridge. A perfect evening.

Frank and I will be spending two and a half months in Sicily, starting in May. I can’t wait to meet the rest  of the family!

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