Five in a Row: Papa Piccolo, part 2

We are continuing on our quest to find Papa Piccolo in Venice.  If  you care to catch up on part 1 of our journey, you can read about it here.



We were determined to find the edge of the main islands and forged ahead exploring the city’s canals, bridges, and alleys.

We passed the Venice Arsenal – the heart of the Venetian naval industry since the 12th century.  This was the first time I have been able to make it this far down the islands.  It was wonderful!  Most of the alleys belonged to us! (At least by Venice standards, that is.)

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We climbed on anchors… 20180426-DSC03209

Gazed at the boats whizzing through the lagoon…20180426-DSC03217

Inhaled the delightful aroma of wisteria… 20180426-DSC03220

And we even found a park! I think it may be the only playground in Venice.  It was a large garden at the bottom of the city.  Somehow, they seem to forget how tired their legs are when there is something to climb!20180426-DSC03223

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Just look at that wisteria!

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After “resting” our legs at the park, we had a long trek back to the hotel for our dinner reservations and it was time to pick up the pace… but not before we stopped to admire the sun slowly sinking over lagoon.  20180426-DSC0323520180426-DSC03230

We made it to dinner — albeit 10 minutes late — but perfectly on time by Italian standards.  And boy did it feel good to sit down and refuel!20180426-DSC03239

We finished up dinner just in time to check off one of my bucket list items — dancing in Piazza San Marco under the light of the moon while the musicians perform every favorite cliche Italian folk song.  That’s Amore!20180426-DSC0324520180426-DSC03244

Sorry for the blurry picture, but nighttime photography with dancing kids is not my forte!20180426-DSC0324720180426-DSC03254

Who could possibly resist another chance to chase pigeons?20180426-DSC0324920180426-DSC03253

They were amazed with the toy demonstrations from the “pesky” sales guys.  Being the only kids out there, we were definitely a target that night.20180426-DSC03248

On our way back to the hotel, we found all of the gondolas “parked”.  We counted them and noticed how the gondoliers (mostly) grouped them in fives.  20180426-DSC0326320180426-DSC0326620180426-DSC03267

We were ready to crash after such a long day of walking when Benjamin found How it’s Made on TV.  He was so thrilled and shouted, “That’s what I watch with grandpa!”  So we capped off a great day by learning how race cars are made.

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We woke up to another beautiful day feeling refreshed and ready for more!  One nice thing about staying in the heart of Venice, is that you have the place to yourself in the early mornings and late evenings.  I was surprised how much they loved wandering the streets — taking notice of every nook and cranny — and especially loving the dead ends.

Benjamin and Clara took turns leading the way and we spent almost the entire morning getting lost.

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I actually took a selfie! IMG_9329 2

I have to post another one, because… look at Clara’s “duck face”!  It was totally unprompted.IMG_9330 2

We eventually found ourselves in the Dosoduro neighborhood of Venice, known for being a tad more local than the other side of the Grand Canal.

We visited the Leonardo da Vinci museum.  It was a bit of a disappointment.  Usually da Vinici exhibits are very kid friendly, but not this one.  We go in trouble twice!  Once for being to loud and once because Benjamin tried to use a machine on his own.

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We stumbled upon the Squero San Trovaso, the oldest boatyard in Venice, which first opened in the 17th century.  We watched them at work for a while.  This gondola was waiting in the canal for some time.  When the workers were ready, they placed rollers on the ground and they all worked together to hoist the gondola out of the water.  It looked heavy!  We compared this to a garage where cars would be worked on and took note that everything requires maintenance to run well.

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Next stop… the Ca’ Macana for a mask painting class.  I highly recommend this if you are traveling to Venice with kids.  The shop was not a bit stingy with supplies and helped the kids with technique.  It was a highlight for all!

They had a huge selection of masks from which the kids could choose. (They had another large table in the back) and the masks felt very sturdy.20180427-DSC03306

After the difficult choice of choosing a mask, they selected a color scheme and got painting. 20180427-DSC0330920180427-DSC0330820180427-DSC0331020180427-DSC03311

The instructor taught them how to blend the colors together.20180427-DSC0331220180427-DSC03313

Time to dry!20180427-DSC03314

Now for the accouterment…20180427-DSC0332420180427-DSC0332720180427-DSC03330

All of that painting gave us an appetite for gelato!20180427-DSC03334

Not sure what is happening in this one, but… doesn’t Clara remind you of President Trump here? Haha!20180427-DSC03336

Our trip to Venice was finally complete after a much anticipated gondola ride.  We named the gondolier Luigi Barbero – just like in Papa Piccolo.  IMG_9333 2IMG_933720180427-DSC0335020180427-DSC0334320180427-DSC03347

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Great view of the Rialto Bridge!

Benjamin marveled at the water level overtaking the ground level of the houses. 20180427-DSC03287

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Some of us left the mask shop with painted faces too!

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We headed out of town in style…via water taxi.   Time to say goodbye.  20180427-DSC0337920180427-DSC0337520180427-DSC03374

Sadly, this brings our adventures with Papa Piccolo to a close.  We had such a fantastic time! The kids have turned a corner in their ability to travel and we had almost zero fighting and whining for a whole day and a half!  That is monumental!

I don’t know how much the kids will remember of this time, but I will treasure these memories in my heart forever.  Ciao bella Venezia! 

Five in a Row: Papa Piccolo, part 1

This week we jumped ahead to a selection in volume 1 of Five in a Row – Papa Piccolo.  Since it is set in Venice, I just had to fit it in before we say arrividerci to Italy.

Papa Piccolo is an aloof tomcat who rules the streets of Venice by night.  His life changes for the better when he becomes less selfish and lovingly decides to adopt two kittens — teaching them everything they need to know to survive on the streets.

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Before we even began the story, Benjamin got to work building a lego Venice.  So darling!   He even made a display with the books for the backdrop.

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He added Papa Piccolo!
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Love the gelato!
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Every canal needs an octopus!

We read many stories and facts about Venice and studied the journey of Marco Polo –   Benjamin loved hearing of his adventures.

We studied the book’s beautiful watercolor illustrations and created some of our own.  I guess I missed a picture of Clara’s. She decided to paint “all different kinds of pictures” instead.  I wish I had snapped a photo nonetheless.

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Benjamin’s Venice
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His Rialto Bridge

We discussed the qualities of fatherhood found in Papa Piccolo and how he had to sacrifice his own desires in order to care for the kittens responsibly.

Of course, we can’t examine fatherhood without including our perfect Father in heaven.  We discussed both God’s heart for orphans and also how He adopts us when we choose to believe and receive His Son Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  The Living Breathing God – Creator of the Universe – chooses us! And He delights in us despite of our broken, messy, wandering sinful nature.

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.

Psalm 68:5

He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.

Ephesians 1:5

Then…we got to take our studies to Venice!  Though we live roughly an hour away, getting to Venice still feels like a lot of work and takes much longer than an hour.  When we finally arrived, the first bridge we happened upon was the Ponte Dei Tolentini – the very home of Papa Piccolo!  I believe I was way more enchanted with this than the kids  were, but Venice is tricky and NOT very well signed.  Kids would never understand.

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We slowly meandered through the alleyways while we made our way towards the hotel.

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We passed the Rialto Bridge and admired the view of the Grand Canal.  20180426-DSC0311720180426-DSC03125

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The Grand Canal

If you’ve been to Venice, you will appreciate how empty the Rialto was. 20180426-DSC03127

We stayed at the Hotel Bonvecchiati which was only about a 3 minute walk from Piazza San Marco and it was fantastic!  The room was huge by Venetian standards and had very updated amenities. I got an amazing rate as I was able to book last minute.

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This is the view from our room.  The canal was directly beneath and every now and then we’d be blessed with the delightful sound of a gondolier serenading his way through the canals while accompanied by an accordion.  The kind of atmosphere that makes my heart swoon.

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After soaking in the view and resting our feet, we had a reading of Papa Piccolo and ventured out for more exploring.

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Along the way, we kept our eyes open for some things we had learned about Venice, such as the fact that they use boats instead of cars.  We imagined what it would be like to live there and had fun searching for different kinds of boats.

We found police boats…  20180426-DSC03103

Postal boats…20180426-DSC03108

Construction boats…20180427-DSC03337

Garbage boats…20180427-DSC03380

Ambulance boats…20180427-DSC03296

Food delivery boats…20180426-DSC03277

And we think this was a laundry boat…(?) 20180426-DSC03278

We searched for vocabulary words from the story around the city — gilded decor, trinkets,  pots perched upon a ledge, sardines, and chiming bells to name a few.  We never found sardines, but plenty of other fish we thought cats might like to eat.

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One of our favorite things to play was eye spy with the Venetian flag and the winged lion.  We learned that the winged lion, the symbol of Venice, is holding an open book with the latin inscription Pax Tibi Marce Evangelista Meus:  Peace be unto thee Mark my evangelist.  When the book is open,  Venice is said to be at peace; when the book is closed, Venice is at war.  I have never seen the book closed.

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We logged a lot of time trying to catch pigeons in San Marco.

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After chasing pigeons and more exploring, it was definitely time for a gelato break.

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We loved the pizza faces!20180426-DSC03166

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We found another “tipping tower”.20180426-DSC03199

And best of all… we found Papa Piccolo!  He lived at the Acqua Alta bookstore and was the only cat we saw in Venice.

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The kids loved the Acqua Alta – especially seeing books piled up in gondolas and old bathtubs.  We discussed the flooding Venice is plagued with and how the gondolas and bathtubs help protect the books.  20180426-DSC03191

We braved the wobbly book stairs.

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Love those little legs on the side.

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We were greeted with this view at the top.

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They even had a book courtyard.  The musty, tattered, weathered books were intriguing for us all.

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This post is getting a bit too long.  Join us next time while we finish exploring Venice in an effort to find Papa Piccolo.