At the back of the beginning!

a photo finds it’s way home

Some twenty five years ago I stood at St. Mark’s Square, in Venice at the Traghetto Molo and took a photo of the gondoliers.

They were seated together chatting and I felt very brave walking up to take a photo of them all. It would be just one of the millions of photos taken in Venice of these men who guide the black, flat-bottomed gondolas up and down the canals.






As a young backpacker traveling through Europe there was no way I could afford to ride through Venice in one of the magical gondolas, and really who wants to ride in a gondola on their own.

So I was happy to meet a tiny Italian woman who took me under her wing and walked me to the closest traghetto pier, I got to have a mini gondola ride and took a photo of the gorgeous oarsman.

Who could possibly think that so many years later I would get a message on the blog from Marie who turned out to be married to one of the men in my photo.

Ciao Lisa,

Si! That’s my husband Roberto seated on the right next to his colleague Dino. Gigi Ciampi (now retired) is on the left standing and Matteo has his back to the camera. Each of them are at least second generation gondoliers. If they were taken in 1989 then we had just been married for 2 years!

I can’t wait to show him the clearer photo this evening when he gets home, and yes Massimo Memo works in St. Mark’s with Roberto now. He, too comes from a long line of gondoliers. He has 2 brothers who are also gondoliers and his father, now retired, was also a gondolier. Not sure if his grandfather, like my husband’s, was too…I need to ask Roberto.

Thank you for posting the photos. Roberto printed out the one of Massimo and took it to work today to show him.

A presto,

Marie Ohanesian NardinBlogger

What strikes me is the absolute coincidence of these images finding their way home to Venice so many years later.

Never as a young traveler did I think I’d be married to an Italian, blogging about Italy, and finding such a unique friendship. I know one day soon we’ll get to meet, and laugh at just how small a world it really is!

PS ~  “At the back of the Beginning” is a term used often by our little boy….

23 replies
  1. Yvonne
    Yvonne says:

    I arrived at this post via Facebook, where a friend, Jeff Kerwin, had posted a link to your shared love of decrepit buildings. Then, I noticed a link to a post from Venice, and found that you had made contact with Marie, via a photo taken, lo, these many years ago. I have met the very personable Marie and Roberto, so it was nice to have this little hunk of serendipity fall into my life today.

    Oh, and I’m from Queensland, by the way. As Toni has written, Il mondo è piccolo, and getting smaller each day!

    Now, I’m off to prowl through your archives. Ciao!
    Yvonne recently posted..I just can’t help myself, it seemsMy Profile

  2. Toni DeBella
    Toni DeBella says:

    Lisa, I was saving this post and just got to reading it. What a wonderful story….almost mystical. Funny thing is I just wrote a post about how small the world has become and then your story emerges!. You know what is really weird? (in a good way), Marie and I found we had a women in common that she met at a writer’s conference that is a friend of mine from San Francisco. Say hi to Marie for me. 🙂 Hugs. toni
    Toni DeBella recently posted..Il Mondo e’ Piccolo: San Francisco to OrvietoMy Profile

    • Lisa Chiodo
      Lisa Chiodo says:

      How funny that we are both on the same track, I can’t believe that about you and Marie it certainly is a small world! I love that you are in it!!!
      ciao lisa xx

    • Lisa Chiodo
      Lisa Chiodo says:

      I know Lisa I was astonished and so love the chance coincidence of the entire story and that these men are still gondoliers. How incredible that Marie happened to read my blog all these years later and that I had only recently scanned the images (and was inspired by the wonderful Carla Coulson to post them). If you google the word coincidence there are some totally unbelievable ones to choose from ciao lisa x
      Lisa Chiodo recently posted..Finding your Inner Compass My Profile

  3. Janine
    Janine says:

    A beautiful story Lisa. It must give you a wonderful sense of being on the right path somehow. I have been wrapped up in thoughts of destiny and sliding doors lately. This post suits my mood perfectly. Jxx
    Janine recently posted..High NoonMy Profile


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