“Venice…Venice…Venice…” Arriving for a brief layover in Paris, France, an employee of Charles de Gaulle Airport stood in front of me, repeating my final destination while directing those bound for the tranquil lagoon to the right. As he serenaded me with his near rhythmic repetitions as I waited for my classmates to join me in the terminal, I reflected upon my journey thus far. On the way to Logan International Airport in Boston, I joined a friend and his family for a final meal in the United States at The Cheesecake Factory. Following check-in at the airport, a Transportation Security Agent promptly forced me to surrender my bottle of sunscreen lotion. (Thanks a lot, bin Laden.) Waiting to board my flight, I went for a walk around the terminal, passing the seats that I occupied more than a year earlier en route to Rome, Italy. That trip (like my present one to Venice and the Veneto) was a travel component of the Special Topics in the Foundations of Western Civilization course (FND 300). The flight to Charles de Gaulle Airport was faster than I expected. (Although I felt remiss for not bring along a grail diary to read on the flight à la Indiana Jones.) As I reflected on this, my colleagues finally emerged. Our layover in Paris being short, we jogged through security and onto our next flight. Dozing on the flight, I was collecting my luggage in Marco Polo Airport before I knew it. Once we all successfully gathered our belongings, Dr. Barbara Beall-Fofana, Associate Professor of Art History, and Dr. Lance Lazar, Associate Professor of History, led us out of the airport and to the Alilaguna dock. Drs. Beall and Lazar, who taught The Renaissance in Venice seminar the previous semester, would now guide us through “the most serene republic” itself. Boarding a waterbus and taking a forty-minute trip (followed by a walk over four bridges and a brief stop at The Colleoni Monument), we soon arrived at Hotel Locanda La Corte, our home for the next two weeks.
After checking in and freshening up, we went to the local market, where I purchased a loaf of bread. (This bread, together with a jar of Peanut Butter that I brought with me from America, would provide me with many inexpensive lunches during my first week in Venice.)
After finishing lunch, Dr. Beall invited us to join her on a short walk around the neighborhood. Our walk took us down many backstreets, which were calm and quiet. Later in the day, Dr. Lazar led us a walk around Venice that brought us to the more active Piazza San Marco, Accademia Bridge, and Rialto Bridge.
Our walk ended at a restaurant, where I had a first introduction to Venetian cuisine with Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia and Risotto di Pesce along with an assortment of fried seafood for dinner and Tartufo di Cioccolato for dessert.