(sinous swirls of fresh pasta rest in a shop window)

(mother and daughter travelers always make me smile)

(our focal point in this country)

(D and I sip on macchiatos and americanos with glee)

(meet Jenna, Vito's sister, who lives near Zurich, Switzerland)

We have arrived in Venice -- and we are attempting to taste every flavor of gelato while being in Italy for one week. My first in the city was a 'fior de latte,' more or less a sweet cream while D sampled 'baccio' a swirling concoction of hazelnut and chocolate. Once we were pumping with sugar and fat, we took an all-day walk around the island, stopping for the world's best macchiato at sweet cafe. I love a restaurant with big mirrors and red booths (see photo).... Being in Italy, you just can't help but notice the artful way life is done... even the paper napkins had the most beautiful emblem on them. You cannot escape the beauty. It's a wonderful feeling being surrounded by history, memory and reverence for human expression. Not to mention the gastronomic bliss that beckons at every corner. I insist on stopping in almost every grocery store, small market, pastry shop and gelataria . . . just to plot the next day's meal or a taste of something fabulous.

Another incredible high-point of first day here was spotting a cirnecco del etna (same breed as Mr. Vito, my family's most beloved hound), prancing with her owner near the grand canal. I made a bee-line for the darling to stroke her ears, and low and behold she's is from Vito's same litter! Her name is Jenna and she is a little shy, but completely adorable. It is an amazing and small world we dog-obsessed folks live in . . .

Venezia is definitely a city to let the map go, take deep breaths, walk slowly and wander till dark. We are off to Padova tomorrow and a few day trips coming up, then D's Mom arrives on Wednesday and we all drink cappuccinos till our hair stands on end. Molto Benne.

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