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 a wonderful woman Marie from Italy to Los Angeles and Back 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,


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!

Life’s Postcards

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

Some Further Reading on coincidence

Orvieto or Bust ~ Toni DeBella

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22 comments… add one

  • Bonnie October 9, 2014, 4:34 am

    I absolutely adore “At the back of the beginning”!!!!

    • Lisa Chiodo October 9, 2014, 7:35 am

      Our son Luca comes out with the funniest sayings Bonnie xxx

  • jan September 6, 2012, 9:21 am

    I love all these co-incidences. It is amazing how all these people from all over the world have come together.
    jan recently posted..Quirky Budget HotelsMy Profile

  • Yvonne September 5, 2012, 11:49 am

    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

  • Toni DeBella March 6, 2012, 5:24 pm

    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 March 6, 2012, 8:24 pm

      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

  • Misha March 3, 2012, 1:53 am

    What an incredible coincidence… or was it serendipity? I love stories like these – they are pure magic. :)
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  • Krista March 2, 2012, 2:35 pm

    I love this story. :-) How amazingly delightful. So glad you were able to learn the story behind your photo. :-)
    Krista recently posted..A Crazy Month of Little AdventuresMy Profile

    • Lisa Chiodo March 6, 2012, 8:28 pm

      Now I’m wondering if I will find stories behind some of the other photos I have from my backpacking days Krista!
      ciao lisa x
      Lisa Chiodo recently posted..Memories of VeniceMy Profile

  • LindyLouMac in Italy March 2, 2012, 4:36 am

    Lisa this is just such an amazing and wonderful coincidence. :)
    LindyLouMac in Italy recently posted..Fisherman’s Beach – Spiaggia del Pescatore – MartaMy Profile

  • Lisa Wood March 1, 2012, 2:30 pm

    As I am reading this amazing photo tale I have goose bumps all over – that is one incredible story…who would have thought that this is possible?

    Love it!

    Lisa Wood recently posted..Skwirk Review : Online Education While on the RoadMy Profile

    • Lisa Chiodo March 3, 2012, 6:22 pm

      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

  • Janine March 1, 2012, 10:50 am

    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

    • Lisa Chiodo March 3, 2012, 6:17 pm

      Janine you are so right I did get an amazing kick from hearing this wonderful comment from Marie and knowing that a simple post on my blog caused this beautiful coincidence to come to light. Those sliding doors, we just never know where they will lead us, hope yours give you all you wish for ciao lisa
      Lisa Chiodo recently posted..At the back of the Beginning – a photo finds it’s way homeMy Profile

  • Francesca Muir March 1, 2012, 7:55 am

    Fabulous story Lisa – talk about 6 degrees of separation! Ciao Francesca xx
    Francesca Muir recently posted..Summer dining al frescoMy Profile

  • Ingrid March 1, 2012, 1:18 am

    It is such a small world!!
    Ingrid recently posted..22nd February 2011 RemembranceMy Profile

    • Lisa Chiodo March 1, 2012, 6:19 am

      It certainly is Ingrid and getting smaller all the time….x


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