View of the Grand Canal from one of the city's seemingly endless bridges

The Doge's Palace (residence of the elected-for-life emperor when Venice was the most powerful and richest "republic" in the world)

Typical all-seafood lunch I had consisting of Baccala (creamed salt cod); polenta with sweet little shrimp plucked from the Adriatic; lovely, delicate and supple baby octopi; and briny, spiny lobsters. Lots of the seafood I ate in Venice, like those lobsters, are species unavailable in America--a crying shame.

On the penultimate night of my eight-day, dream-like vacation, I saw the opera "Aida" in an ancient Roman gladiatorial arena built around 100 BC situated in Verona (you know, the Romeo and Juliet city--more on that later!) made with pink marble and beautifully preserved. I wept like a baby at the end.

It's weird to be back in the States; I'm incredibly jet-lagged and scraps of Italian keep buzzing through my head. I'd like to thank RJZ for maintaining the blog--I owe her a dinner! These are but four of the over 300 pictures I snapped, and maybe by this weekend, I'll share a few more of them along with a lifetime's worth of stories. For now, I'm taking a nap!