We began “The Gospel Comes to Italy” in the south twelve days ago, exploring sites with direct connections to the time before and during Christ’s birth. As we traveled north, we also moved ahead in time, first remembering Paul’s journey to Rome, his imprisonment there, and his impact on First Century believers. The influence of Christianity on culture, geography and politics during the medieval times of Francis of Assisi and the Renaissance in Florence infused our experiences there. Ending in Venice today brought everything together as it became apparent important things were happening in and around this city during ALL those times.
Our guide Marco expounded on history, art, politics, and the daily life of Venetians, giving us the low-down with colorful descriptions and a wonderful dose of occasionally wacky humor.
We began in San Marcos Square, the seat of both cultural and political happenings.
The basilica, defining and enlivening the culture, is brilliant with golden mosaics. Since we were unable to take photos, a stock picture will have to suffice:
The Ducal Palace, from where Venice’s leaders (doges) adjudicated and ruled, is filled with striking art as well, chosen and installed to impress and awe anyone that entered. The Golden Staircase, being the first thing a visitor saw, set the mood.
Of course, the Bridge of Sighs, used by condemned prisoners as they walked from courtroom to prison cell, was a destination. Having seen the bridge’s exterior from the water as we arrived in the city center, we were treated (It may not have been a treat to those of us that don’t like cramped spaces.) to seeing the water from the bridge’s interior.
Our full day also included gondola rides for all. With six of us per boat, our gondoliers had their work cut out for them, but they poled us through the rios (water streets) smoothly and efficiently.
And now it’s time to say good-bye. Our wake-up call comes early–shortly after 3 a.m., actually–so some farewells have already been said. Trip take-aways for me: new friends, great memories of grand sights, and a deepened appreciation for Italian life and faith throughout time. Thanks for taking this journey with me.