In the midst of all our talk, Martin was telling me Things His Classmates Don't Know About. Apparently, a couple of weeks ago, in his art class, the teacher asked the kids if they had any questions, and some of them asked how to make GREEN. They didn't know they could mix blue and yellow together. Martin was completely boggled by this, and I don't blame him. Did they MISS ALL of lower elementary? Did they not play with fingerpaints? They're 8TH GRADERS. Crazy. And in another class, around the same time, it transpired that no one in his class knew who Jules Verne was, though they had all heard of, read or seen some of his works. Now he plays a game with his best friend in class: a yes/no question game asking him things/people/places that he knows. "Sometimes I throw him a bone," Martin told me, "and include people I'm sure he's heard of."
And this is the Information Age/Internet-Savvy generation? Hrm.
In other news, the radio silence here was because we were in Italy for 3 days. Or rather in Italy for approximately 1.5 days and traveling there and back again for the other half. Anders is working, holding a 2-week course in Modena, and we flew down to spend the weekend with him. We didn't get to Modena until dinner time on Friday, but we went downtown and walked around a little bit and ate dinner at a very fancy restaurant near the church. And on Saturday, we drove 2 hours and spent the entire day in Venice.
I spent a day in Venice when I was in high school; in the middle of a choir tour around Italy where the non-denominational church youth choir I was in sang at various military base churches and schools. We went to Pisa, Florence, Rome, Pompei, Venice, and Naples (not in that order). I was 16 or 17, and as with our last family trip to Italy in 2010 where we visited Florence & Pisa, I didn't really remember squat about Venice.
The weather all weekend was pretty bad: freezing cold, very cloudy and spitting rain most of the time. Saturday was cold and cloudy but it didn't rain on us at all, for which we were very grateful. One day in Venice is definitely not enough. We took the waterbus from the giant parking lot on the outskirts of town up the Giudecca canal (because we didn't realize it wasn't going to go up the Grand Canal, which is what we were expecting), and disembarked at San Marco Piazza. We walked around the town, admiring the architecture and the artist stalls and people-watching. We walked through the alleyways and over tiny canal bridges to the Rialto, and then found a lunch place and spent a fortune on food. We went into San Marco, and did the free 15-minute circuit of the church, but didn't pay for any of the extras like the treasures or whatnot.
There was a sign as you came into the church that said, "SILENCE. NO EXPLANATIONS INSIDE THE CHURCH" which both the kids thought was rather harsh, and they were also taken aback by the hieroglyphic admonishment against bare arms and legs inside the nave. I was, as always, completely fascinated by the unbelievable expanse of the mosaic tiled floor and ceiling. SO MUCH WORK!
We had paid for a 12-hour waterbus pass, so after leaving San Marco, we boated over to Murano, where the glass blowers have reigned for centuries. Every single shop on the island sells glassware. We paid a small fee to watch a glass-blowing demonstration, and went in a few shops, but everything was so expensive that despite my desire to acquire, we walked away with only a couple of very, very small items: tiny glass fish embedded in a blue glass marble. I would like to go back with a shopping-savvy girlfriend or my Mom and a couple of extra thousand bucks to blow. Everything was so pretty but I kept wondering how the heck I would get it home without breaking it. I already have a lot of little glass animals in my shadowboxes, but I could happily populate an entire glass menagerie if I could afford it. :)
I'm sure that if we'd had more time, we could have researched a little better and found some of the more out-of-the-way, not-quite-so-touristy areas, but...I suspect most of Venice is only geared toward tourist prices now. Still, it was really fun to see the town again. And weird to think that if you removed the power lines and electric lights and advertising (which was minimal in most places) and some of the relatively discreet trappings of the modern age, the city must look pretty much as it did in the Renaissance.
Now the kids want to go to Rome.