Sting at the Piazza San Marco

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

We were wandering around Piazza San Marco last night and Sting was singing, sound checking, one imagines, before his gig later in the evening. We got quite close and hung around for a while until he waved farewell to the growing crowd. No zoom lens in my bag at the time but the middle photo below has Sting playing guitar with his back to the fans.

St Mark’s Square really is a spectacular, open-air venue for any performance and the acoustics were superb, even if one is not that keen on Sting! Kate, who saw him a couple of years ago, when The Police reformed, was bopping along quite happily. Sarah just kept saying, “who is Sting”?



Lucy and Sarah have stopped at every mask stall and shop in Venice. Let me assure you, that’s a prolific number of stops. We relented, it is much cheaper than a gondola ride and allowed them to buy some ‘authentic’, made in Venice, masks (many we saw appear to be made in China). We did check out one shop where an artisan was making masks. He seemed cranky. We didn’t stay long.

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

The tradition in Venice, of commedia dell’ arte, is actually evident in the streets when watching Venetians interacting. They seem very melodramatic, especially in gesture. We actually saw one elderly man lift one leg, fart loudly and then cocked the other with a slightly louder fart belching forth. He appeared to be returning from shopping at the markets.


We are staying in Castello, the largest sestiere in Venice. At first, we thought there was a reasonable chance that we may never find our way back to the apartment as the maze of streets is very confusing. Now, we feel very confident navigating our way from markets and churches to piazzas and home again. Venice really is unique and one must wonder how the 60 000 locals cope with the tourist hordes, over 20 000 000 per year. Well, according to one local, they move. Venetians have moved to places where they can raise families less expensively. We have noticed there seems to be many older Venetians in the streets near where we stay. There are also lots of rules that are not conducive to family life. We are yet to see a bike or scooter.

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

We have mostly wandered the lanes and enjoyed the ambience of this unusual city. Shopping for fresh produce at the Rialto fish, fruit and vegie markets was fun and I cooked seafood pasta with scampi, whole baby squid and green prawns while Lucy enjoyed her salmon. Of course, it is de rigueur for tourists to ride in a gondola and the girls thought it suitably magical. I thought it outrageously expensive but the gondolier was friendly, knowledgeable and very likeable. He told us that it is a three year course to join the ranks and that there are about 450 gondoliers in Venice.

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore 

Sarah asked us later that afternoon why we have not spotted any ‘girl gondoliers’. We assume it is like the priesthood.

Tourists and Tourism, Beggars and Begging

As a younger man, I was a ‘traveller’ not a ‘tourist’. ‘Travelling’ was the goal rather than ‘tourism’ and I arrogantly pitied those ‘fat fools’ on bus tours following the guide’s flag. Of course, there was plenty of hubris in that attitude as I tried my best to spend no money, stay in cool places and blend in as much as possible. To a large extent I had no real choice (or real money), it was independent travel in places like India or stay at home and work for a living. Anyway after a while, I could see that I was on a ‘tourist’ trail of a different hue and the (irony) floodgate that experience opens gushed.

For instance, trekking in Nepal, independently, without a guide, still led to the deforestation of the mountainsides and a false economy developing. Nepalis carrying boxes of soft drink high into the Annapurna rather than useful staples for the people. I was still ‘rich’ to many of the people and played my part in bringing all the social problems that ‘Westernisation’ brings to the people of remote, ‘untouched’ places.

In two years travelling, in the 90s, I took no photos. This was a conscious decision as I wanted to ‘live’ not ‘record’. How I regret that attitude and wish for pictures of that journey. There will be no such problem with this trip.

This trip does see us travelling independently, staying in a range of accommodation but undoubtedly tourists. When we arrive and work in Denmark, I am not sure what our status will be…

One issue that always confounds and conflicts is that of begging. In one steady gaze it is often possible to see a marvel of human design, that ‘wealthy’ tourists have travelled far to ogle with their expensive cameras, while a beggar, at feet level with a bowl, often disfigured, lame or old looks up open-mouthed and despairing. I have wanted to photograph every beggar we passed but somehow, could not bring myself to do so. As such, there are no photos to accompany this post.

What is your attitude towards the poverty and despair one sees ‘on the road’?

A tune on the radio…

While on the shop and street I gazed
My body of a sudden blazed;
And twenty minutes more or less
It seemed, so great my happiness,
That I was blessed and could bless.

                                                          WB Yeats

Every taxi ride we have, to and from an airport, without fail, a tune from the 1980s is on the radio. Usually, it is one that Kate and I loved or at the very least is a pleasant memory. Leaving Rome we heard Joe Jackson.


It made me feel as happy as a man can feel. Every time I have this soaring joy, It makes me think of Yeats and the poem I quoted from above. The funny thing was that when we hopped of the plane, in Venice, Lucy said something similar about “…feeling as happy as I can…” and I knew how she felt.

Via De Delfini, 24

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We didn’t realise ’til this morning that Fernando, our lovely next door neighbour and negoziante, made the cover of Lonely Planet some years ago.


It was perfect to have his store next door as it made supplying the kitchen with fresh products very simple. I loved his timeless bike.

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore 

The ambience of the Piazza Margana was calm and perfectly central, yet close to everything for us to walk everywhere. We have been lucky so far with accommodation on this trip.

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore 

We fly to Venice in a few hours and say ciao to Roma, a wonderful and truly eternal city.

The Roman Forum and the Vatican

We walked over 20 kilometres today. This is a family record, for any trip. The girls were skipping along the Tiber, on the way home, apparently unaffected. Kate and I felt like cold beer and a deep need to sit down for a week. We both feel a little hobbled. Lucy and Sarah are on the cusp of earning their ‘good travellers’ rewards – a trip to Legoland and Hong Kong Disneyland – as they have been absolutely excellent.

We visited the Roman Forum today and also ascended the Palantine Hill, the location of the cave, where Romulus and Remus were found by the she-wolf that suckled them. Once again, being at the site gives one a different perspective on familiar history in a range of ways. For example, I now understand how close the Colosseum and Circus Maximus were to the heart of government. Augustus, from his residence above the Forum, could actually watch the chariots race. You should note that the Circus Maximus is not very impressive, looking more like a disused skate park than a historic site of import. You should also note that we could not prise the audio guide from Sarah’s hands.

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

Lucy and Sarah saw that archaeologists use more than just trowels to do their work. We saw a variety of mechanical diggers excavating at the site and this woman (below) using a theodolite.

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

After lunch, we walked to the Vatican Museum and Saint Peter’s Square. I decided not to take my camera and, of course, regretted this instantly. No photos are permitted in the Sistine Chapel but elsewhere, photography is allowed.

Kate really enjoyed the afternoon. I struggled, rightly or wrongly, with some of my deeply held beliefs. Lucy said she loves all museums. Sarah made us all laugh. We all enjoyed the Gallery of Maps. I also learnt that Benito Mussolini signed the papers that made Vatican City the world’s smallest state, in 1929. Interesting huh.

It was a good day in the world.

God2-Sistine Chapel

St Peter's Square, Vatican City - April 2007