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Europe: Reformation Switzerland and Renaissance Italy
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Journal 8

Venice. . . carnival, gondolas, canals, a virtual labyrinth of streets,
and brigdes, merchants, floods,art and architecture, a city on the sea.
Everything I've heard, read, and seen about this fiercly independent and
proud city on the eastern coast of Italy was true. Today though, more than
ever, Venice is a city struggling to stay alive. She is under siege from
all sides as the oceans continue to rise and her soft foundations continue
to sink. We experienced this firsthand as we walked across pathways laid
above the sidewalks and plazas while native Venetians sloshed through the
sometimes knee-high water in large rubber goloshes. By noon or so the
water would recede with the tide and the stones of Venice would be left to
dry out again before another round. Efforts are being made to deal with
this problem such as new and more drains and I hope upon hope that a way
will be found to prevent Venice from becoming the next Atlantis, saving
her for generations to come. I can only hope that my children and their
children will be able to experience Venice as I have!

I think that Venice was one of my favorite cities in all of Europe, that
I've been in thus far. There was just something in the air or magical
about Venice. This could especially be felt at night with the sounds of a
piano or stringed ensemble floating in the air, the lights reflecting
across the ocean and clans, and lights sparkling across the beautiful
architecture that makes Venice what she is. I felt this that first night
as we made our way down the Grand Canal and every night thereafter until
we departed. I found the weekend to be very refreshing and fulfilling, very
different from the other parts of Italy I have experienced. It was a good
break from Florence and Villa Aurora.

Along with the actual beauty and magic of Venice, what made the weekend
so good, for me at least, were the scavenger hunt and neighborhood
exploration activities. I had a great group; Jeremy, Kelley, Niki, and
then Tia on Sunday and I really enjoyed spending time with and getting to
know them all better. While the scavenger hunt took lots of time, seven
hours, in all, I really found it stimulating and fun. It was a game and
each new piece found brought about a sense of accomplishment and
excitement. It was with pride that I think all of us finished and handed
in our little booklet in. It had taken all of us working together which
I think made the ending acheivement that much better. It was a wonderful
way to see a city and all the little things it had to offer from side
streets, churches, and just little statues and figures carved into or
placed on walls, buildings, and bridges. The neighborhood exploration was
also a nice way to see Santa Croce and learn about its history at the
same time. All in all Venice lived up to and exceeded my expectations and
I can't wait to return again another time.

-Jon Risser