Yawwwwwn ... yet another day to spend in Venice ... though today we do have a train to catch later in the afternoon. I decided to invigorate the local economy by going shopping.

I discovered a store selling wine in a different way - the stuff is still in casks which have dispensing taps, and the vino is ready to purchase a la the bulk section of a grocery store. Simply bring in a clean, empty container, request a variety from those that are available and *sploosh*, wine to go. I have the feeling this would definitely grate on the sensibilities of our well-heeled former tour host Jeffrey, but I get a couple of liters in a previously emptied water bottle and continue on my way.

A floating produce stand

I spot a floating produce stand and marvel at how commerce is taking place as it has for hundreds of years. In this island town, motor traffic is barred not just on all walkways, but, due to the low overhead of the pedestrian bridges, on some of the smaller canals as well. Many merchants simply dock on the Grand Canal and roll in their merchandise on wheeled carts. At least the physical work keeps some jobs here. While tourism is big in Rome, here it's just about the only thing. Native Venetians long ago looked to the mainland to get higher paying jobs, but due to the manual labor requirements of the infrastructure, a few who are looking for a paycheck will always remain since there's always something to haul around this town, be it this morning's newspapers or tonight's garbage.

native ignores tourists...

One last time past the Palazzo Ducale with both late-season tourists and high tide in full force. A local -- I can tell he's local, he's wearing rubber galoshes and ignoring the water and the tourists -- wades out into the surf to make a call on a pay phone, while a herd of tourists in the background is equally oblivious to his adventure.

I discover a small woodworking shop, run by a craftsman as eager to listen to my halting Italian as he is eager to practice his halting handful of English words. I admire his work, look over the pricy inventory, check my budget (gee, I haven't blown a wad of cash in this town in, oh, two and a half days...) then I pick out a small, square jigsaw puzzle depicting a view of a quaint bridge over a quaint canal. Hey, that's right, I'll be in Italy possibly well into December, I should do my xmas shopping early.

I hit a La Standa grocery outlet for some bread and cheese to go with the bulk wine, and I'm set for the train trip home.

At the railway station, many of us slowly gather again into a group. Bubbling at the amazing sights we've seen, and slack-jawed and silent as we absorb it. A familiar tune passes through my head, but with lyrics adapted to our scenery:

"When you leave Venice-land
with some lire still in hand,
that's ... amaaaaaaazing...!"

Some have decided to take side trips before heading back to Rome: to the Cinqueterre beach towns near the riviera; to Milan for a Morandi exhibit. Seems as if more than half of us have opted for Rome, so as the train pulls in we make sure our buddies get on the correctly marked car for the complete through-trip.

Stopping briefly in Florence, now known to be a future field trip (in about a month's time), then continuing south, it's well after dark when we roll into Rome's Stazione Termini. A building becoming very familiar to some of us by now (especially those who spent nearly all of our first day here trying to find our lost airplane ticket...).

Those of us with apartments in the Trastevere area know fully well by now how to find the number 13 tram that will get us closer to our neighborhood, our beds, the return of vespas outside the window, and some sleep.

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