Oh, the irony.
For long-awaited vacation, NASCAR guy goes to Venice, the city without cars.
Yep, there are zero automobiles in the stunning lagoon city the Italians built on the Adriatic to fend off the Barbarians.
But that's where our family went on summer holiday. To get around this town, you walk, or board a Gondola, Water Taxi, or the Vaporetto, those ubiquitous water buses cruising the canals. Get sick, and there are ambulance speedboats.
(For taking my break in a city without streets or cars, please allow me to extend fast apologies to Bill France Sr., Bill France Jr., Curtis Turner, Joe Weatherly, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt Sr., Darrell Waltrip, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch and Jim Hunter, my favorite personalities in this sport, for their plain-spokeness, torpedoes-be-damned vision, and attitudes unaffected by the winds of political correctness.)
Venice's architectural treasure trove of well-preserved medievel buildings flush against the winding grid of canals will remove your breath. "Epic," as the kids say on Facebook.
At every turn, there's another unexpected find. You can't take a bad picture. Just point the camera, press the button, and you've got a postcard.
Suffice it to say, Venice is like nothing you've seen. Just go there someday, if you can.
As a personal plus, the apartment we lived in for a week, allowing me to discover my true inner Guido, had a bidet. And that alone is life altering. (Cue Mad Man's Don Draper describing daisys and a soft summer breeze.)
Depite Venezia's wondrous, historic ambiance, the soaring chapels and countless mask shops (Gaby bought one to wear when she plays bass on stage), the restaurants with aloof waiters who deliberately puff their cigarettes before sauntering over to present the check, the gondola captains in black trousers and striped shirts favoring their romantic cargo with Italian songs, etc. etc., my favorite Venician moment wasn't soaking in any of that, or slurping pasta lathered in black squid ink, or watching glassblowers ply their ancient trade, or waking up to the clang-gong-dong, clang-gong-dong bells atop the churches outside our bedroom, or any of the continual unexpected glimpses of beauty everywhere.
No, this trip, the enduring memory was relaxing in the town square's local cafe, sipping Venezian Cappuccino. A lithe Italian girl in a tight mini-skirt struts by, her four-inch stilleto heels clacking against the old stones, and Gaby declares: "Is that a HOOKER?"
My daughter's voice -- a mixture of childish innocence and hard-boiled mean-streets-of-New York City skepticism -- booming off tiles set hundreds of years ago in this unique city of my home country, made the whole trip worth it.