Oh dio mio! It was such a long trip over but so worth it to be here. We kept the boys up until our flight left DC - no small feat, and I felt certain it would result in cross-Atlantic nod - but the best laid plans...whoa. It took hours for them to fall asleep and when they did, it was a head on each of my wedged-in-the-middle-of-their-little-beings thighs. My total space on the whole miserably compacted plane was about 8" square until we reached Frankfurt. I think I've got a fair sense of how awful enslaved farm animals must feel. The plane was literally the most poorly designed aircraft I've ever had the displeasure to spend 8+ hours upon.Nonetheless, the kids got a few hours of sleep! I got none and by time we deplaned in Germany I was zonked to the nines. The Frankfurt airport is meh to the max: poorly designed, grim, where are the bathrooms and why so small?, and these wretched smoking areas that resemble glass cattle cars and from which the smoke oozes despite the swiftly closing sliding doors. I can't imagine willingly walking into such a reeking chamber; my lungs ached just looking at it, and the smell was suffocating. Good coffee and sandwiches were redemptive in a small way, as was a small kinder area with some riding and climbing toys on which the boys could play. Finally, to Venice. I got a much-needed hour of shut-eye on the flight and emerged a bit rejuvenated. A small miscommunication landed us in Mestre, the train station where my sister was not, but we were soon on our way to Santa Lucia, and there she was! And oh Venezia and the magnificence of a city built on water. Bridges everywhere, from grand feats of engineering to the most darling - is it just for fun? - skips across the aquatic way. Up and down, over and over, ciao, scusi, the day more beautiful than you can imagine. The boys were enchanted, and after we dropped our small army of luggage at our apartment, back we walked to S. Lucia to pick up mom and dad, enjoy our first gelati, bring them to the apartment and return to the meandering streets and bridges of Venice to explore and get delightfully lost. Starving at this point, my foodie hawk eyes were peeled for a wonderful find. A panificcio came out of nowhere it seemed, and I tucked into a gorgeous snack spinaci, a mess of spinach cooked into a gorgeous latticed bread. Then, as we turned into a campo, I saw a stand chock full of gorgeous produce; before I knew it I was the overly enthusiastic owner of some purpley-green baby artichokes, some zucchini no bigger than your middle finger with their blossoms still attached, and two heads of a type of radicchio I'd not seen before. Divine. To the market we went: a kilo of braised melanzane with capers please; oh and definitely plenty of those artichokes; have mercy, LOOK at that fresh mozzarella di bufala, giuncata, ricotta. All of it please! Oliver was snoring in his stroller at this point, and Jack soon dropped off on my shoulder, so we finished shopping and headed home to greet the newest member of our family, my sister's wonderful fiancé, and indulge in a grand picnic dinner replete with all our purchases plus bread, olive oil, wine and champagne. Perfetto! And that was just day 1. 20120324-093837.jpgour view: