Venetian Dance Step

Boat safety or a new dance step?


I spotted this boat in Dorsoduro last summer.

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Casanova the Turtle

Okay, followers of my blog will know that I’m often battling stereotypes of Giacomo Casanova as a ladykiller, get-’em-into-bed, notch-in-the-bedpost kind of lover. He liked women with brains, he liked the seduction, he liked to get to know women and not only rack up high numbers of conquests.

But the stereotypes die slowly. In fact, I came across this article about a creature dubbed the “Casanova turtle” because he sired so many babies that he helped bring the Galapagos turtle population back from near-extinction. You can read about him here or also here, which also has a video.

And by the way, the turtle’s name is not Casanova. It’s Diego. And now he gets to retire.

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Image of Diego from


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Venice, Wish You Were Here #6



My friend bought this postcard for me at a sort of “garage sale” in a small village in France. What is the equivalent of a garage sale there? What do they call it?

I’m sad that there’s no real message on the card; now my “rule” is to only buy cards with written messages. But the fact that it’s from 1925 is pretty cool! How do I decipher the dates for month and day? And, sadly, the stamp is missing.

It seems to be addressed to Madame et Monsieur Benjamin Chamot, a Villiers le Sec, par Vurze, Nièvre, France, which is in the Burgundy region. At the 2007 census, the population was estimated at 49 people. More students live in the dorms at the high school where I teach! I wonder if members of the Chamot family still live there?

In 1925 the gondolas still had a felze, the little cabin to protect passengers from the elements (and others’ eyes). The gondolier is all in snazzy white. There seems to be a vaporetto stop just before the Rialto Bridge, though it’s amazing to see this area so empty, without the docks and all the people walking by or embarking or disembarking from boats.

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Sharing: “Not Waving but Drowning”

Fellow Venetophile Jane Fleming shared this poem that her poet husband composed. A melancholy thought for the year’s end, but certainly a poem worth sharing. The image is from his blog site as well. Thanks for sharing!

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Sharing: Gingerbread Venice!


Check out Venice made from gingerbread! This article was sent to me by Rita in Santa Cruz, a fellow author in First Spritz Is Free. A group of architects took on the task and even added details like water flooding the Basilica to highlight climate change. But the faces on the tourists in the gondola are kind of creepy!


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Venice, My Muse: An Interview with Marco Zecchin


Marco Zecchin and I met in, I think, 2005 when we were both selling our books at the Italian American Heritage Foundation event in San Jose. We hit it off immediately and have been friends ever since, enjoying dinners together, gatherings with friends and family, museum visits, or other Italian events. Marco has been a photographer for more than 50 years. For the last 34 years, his commercial business, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, has specialized in architectural and interior design photography. His fine art photographs and books are available off his web site, and he also contributed a chapter to First Spritz Is Free. A workshop teacher and mentor, he enjoys helping aspiring photographers. Marco also is extremely proud of being a father–as he should be! His daughter is an amazing, talented, vivacious young woman. Marco and I will be selling our books, images, and other wares at the “It’s Natale  in the Bay Area” event next Saturday, December 14.

How has Venice seduced you?

My father was born in Venice, and his stories from his life there painted a picture of a promised land. When I was 12, we went to visit family who lived in a spacious palazzo. My brother and I were left in the company of my two male cousins. We were all within four years of each other, and we had free rein to wander around Venice. We screamed and ran through narrow calli that opened up to one amazing campo after another. Standing atop bridges, large and small, we watched all sorts of water-based activities: boats loading and unloading passengers, furniture into water entrances to private homes, vegetables to various markets, elegant couples with loads of baggage into hotels. The sounds of constant slapping of water on stone, gondoliers yelling “Oee” at blind corners, pigeons flapping, music from unknown sources, and greetings my cousins shared introducing us to friends we ran into along the way. The freedom we had and the trouble we got into, being four unsupervised preteen boys in Venice, was unprecedented and seductive. To this day, when I visit my cousins there, our eyes glint as we try to shed the intervening 50 years to become young again together but usually just sharing and laughing at our memories of our youthful exploits. I guess I’ve become my father, sharing my Venetian stories in fact and in photographs.


Gondoliers call out “one!” to warn that they are approaching a corner (photo by Kathy Gonzalez)

What do you never fail to do in Venice?

Sit on a bench along the Viale Giuseppe Garibaldi. A quiet moment on the tree lined viale watching the local nonni play with their grandchildren, followed by checking the Monumento a Giuseppi Garibaldi fountain to say hello to the turtles living in the pond below the statue.

What is your Venice soundtrack?

It’s performed by the battling string bands across Piazza San Marco, and their eclectic musical choices from “Volare” to “We Are the Champions.”

Walk or take a boat?

Walk, whenever possible!

Which church or campo best epitomizes you? Please explain.

You would think San Marco, as I was named after the basilica, but it’s the church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli. I don’t know if it epitomizes me, but I am drawn to it because it’s not on the basic tourist trails, remaining a hidden gem. The vaulted nave in gilded wood with inset paintings, multi-colored marble paneled interior, which aesthetically works for me, leading to a flight of stairs to the altar.… I will search it out on a warm day for a moment of corporeal coolness and receive a mystical uplifting of my spirit.


Basilica San Marco at night ((photo by Kathy Gonzalez)

Which is your favorite Venetian festival and why?

I don’t know if it’s classically a festival, as they seem to be short lived, a few days or weeks in the case of Carnevale, but my favorite is the Biennale–-both the famous one of the arts, as well as the off year, architectural.

Spritz or Bellini?

Both! Bellini in the morning – always good to have fruit for breakfast. Spritz the rest of the day – the best of thirst quenchers!

What do you always tell friends to do when they visit the city?

Walk and get lost! Let serendipity introduce you to the intimate La Serenissima….


Walking through the city may bring you to a lovely nook like this one at Ai Barbicani. (photo by Marco Zecchin)

If you could have dinner with any Venetian, living or dead, who would it be and why? What would dinner be?

Veronica Franco – she was a Renaissance Venetian woman, a cortigiana onesta. Influential not only in Venetian politics but European as well. I believe she would have amazing insight on so many levels of Venetian society that the evening’s conversation would be extraordinary. What would dinner be –- whatever she wanted!

Casanova: genius or cad?

Both! The enigma of which makes him the most fascinating and universally known Venetian.

What would you do with $30,000 U.S. to spend in Venice?

Live there for as long as the money would allow me.

If money were no object, which palazzo would you buy?

Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel –– small, intimate, livable, and next door to Santa Maria dei Miracoli.


Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel (photo from Wikipedia)

Which gelato flavor are you?

Stracciatella– besides the fact that I love to say the word, it has a Pavlovian effect on me — my mouth being prepared for the creamy texture of the sweet gelato and frozen crunch of the shaved chocolate, the next best thing to a passionate kiss! Wait a minute, the question is, am I this flavor? Oh, why not….


One of the only bridges in Venice that still lacks a balustrade (photo by Marco Zecchin)

How can readers learn more about you and your creative pursuits?

Commercial architectural and interior design photography:

Fine art photography:




Marco Zecchin


The Spirit of Northern Italy

Momenti Italiani

First Spritz is Free: Confessions of Venice Addicts(contributor)


It’s Natale in the Bay Area!



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Gondola Stuff: DosaSpaghetti

Are you able to gauge the right amount of spaghetti? I always have trouble, so I was happy to find this tool to measure the pasta portion. And the best thing–it’s shaped like a gondola! It sits on top of my stove, waiting to be useful.

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