I could have spent the last decade in an Italian prison, instead of Middle America. The father of a high school friend once warned us before a day trip to Canada of the big loophole in foreign travel: they can hold you as long as they want before your trial. Two glasses of wine in Venice and I completely disregarded his sage advice.
I was fortunate, while teaching abroad, to be placed on the southern border of Austria, surrounded by beautiful mountains, and only a few hour's train ride from Venice, Italy. I planned a special trip with two of my most important visitors from home, to go to Venice for the first day the Venetians would begin appearing on the streets in their fantastic Carnival costumes. The pedestrian-only city, a web of alleys, canals, and stone bridges, is by itself a place that inspires the imagination. Adding these elaborate and elegant costumes made the whole place seem like a movie set or Wonderland.