Omar with kids, Marc and Serena, in Venice.
Marco Polo was just 17 years old when he first set off for a lifetime of adventure and exploration with his father and uncle. Polo departed his home town of Venice, Italy by ship and did not return for another 24 years.
I thought about this young explorer as I visited Venice with my own children, who were at the time 12 and 13 years old. I did a little mental age progression as we went, trying to fit these babies, my children, into a form that could possibly be prepared for such a journey of a lifetime. Could the next five years turn one of my headphone-wearing, video game-playing, American “tweens” into a world-class explorer like Polo? It was hard to imagine.
Marco Polo was essentially what – or rather, who – brought us to Venice. My children studied the Italian explorer in school. Because I’m originally from Italy, they began to ask questions. What did I know about him, and was he as famous in Italy as he was here in the United States? Where is Venice, exactly, and why is it so well known? Their questions both amused and intrigued me, hitting as they did on a place and a piece of history of such great significance in my home country.
I began to see that a visit to Venice was in order. It wouldn’t be their first time in Italy, though; I’d taken them almost annually since they were babies. Read More