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Piazza San Marco

May 22, 2007

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The Basilica of St. Mark has 43,000 square feet of mosaics, but it was the pigeons that impressed Mozart the most. She could have fed them all day and they are amazingly tame. It is a time honored tradition, so we could not miss this opportunity. It was a week day and mid morning so it was not very crowded on our first visit.

A sweet man from Thailand took a picture of us and then we took some of him and afterwards he bought Mozart her first bag of corn from the vendors for the pigeons. At first she was a little frightened as these are some very aggressive pigeons. Sometimes it even feels like the attack of the pigeons and of course one is always just a little worried that these happy birds might drop an unwanted present on you. Still she squealed with delight and it was hard to drag her away.

We strolled to the requisite nearby cafe taking in the view and music leisurely and had some cappuccino and water. There is a beautiful fifteenth century clock tower (Torre dell’Orologio) in the square across from the Basilica and we were lucky enough to see the bronze mori (Moors) strike the bell at high noon and listen to the tintinnabulation reverberate around the Piazza for quite some time.

The beautiful Basilica di San Marco with its Byzantine domes, spires and elaborate facade of gold mosaics and marble was built to house the body of Saint Mark. The lines were too long for us to go inside, so we will have to leave that for next time, but the outside was magnificent in itself.

Saint Mark is the patron saint of Venice and his symbol is the lion and there are lions all over the square and all over the city. Even the Venice flag has a lion on it and one sees them every where. You can probably see the gold lion on the Basilica and there is a large one on the clock tower and another huge lion on a tall pillar as you enter the piazza from the Grand Canal. We had fun counting how many lions we saw and lost track around fifty.

Meanwhile, DaVinci was observing the different techniques with other people and the bird feeding, picture taking phenomena. He decided I should try it next, but of course Mozart did not want to miss the action and soon we had a whole slew of them on and around us as I taught her the technique that her dad advised.

I found myself squealing almost as much as Mozart as it is fun and scary at the same time. Visions of
that old Hitchcock movie,“The Birds” came to mind as their little feet and pecking beaks made weird sensations all over my arms, shoulders, on my toes and even on my head. Mozart wanted to keep doing it,
but I was ever so grateful when that little bag of bird seed was gone. Who knew getting this classic picture was such an adventure?

We returned to this piazza several times in our five days in Venice and once we even saw a wedding couple. I chased them down to get a shot. Wow, what a wonderfully romantic place to get married!

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