I was watching America's Next Top Model when I had a thought about Venice.  (Yes, I am a fashion conscious science teacher who wears high heels in labs) The models in the show were dressing up in the 18th century Venice costumes. I was stunned during the show, not by the models' pose to attract a Roman god-like male model who played Giacomo Casanova but by my own disbelief of how little I knew about Venice.

It was rather shameful that I could explain Venice only in 4 words: canal, gondola, carnival and Casanova. I wished I could visit Venice right away and learn more about it as I had a fresh interest in it. But of course it was impossible due to my limitations. After the show, I tried my luck to search Venice in Second Life. I remembered I read an article about virtual tour and tourism study in virtual world. I was sure I could find Venice landmark inworld and I did. As soon as I teleported, I landed on a place that I often saw in several publications about Venice. (Later I learned that it was Rialto Bridge/Ponte di Rialto, one of four bridges spanning the Grand Canal)

Not far from Ponte di Rialto, in a goldola stop, I met an Italian man in gondolier outfit. (gondolier is gondola operator) who welcomed me in his strong Italian accent. It was unbelievable that there was such thing as virtual goldolier.  He offered me a tour around Venice on his gondola. I gladly accepted the offer and gave him 100 L$ tip.  He shared stories about Gondola and Venice as we moved along the canals. His knowledge about long ago and present day Venice was extensive. It was only comparable to an experienced tour guide or even a historian. I learned that it was not easy for the gondolier to be able to steer the virtual gondola while continuously sharing stories and answering questions from the passangers. I was sure without proper trainings, anyone would not be able to become an excellent tour guide like the gondolier, even virtually.

It was an amazing virtual tour of Venice. Only love could build such beautiful city. The realistic replica of this Marco Polo city in Second Life enabled me to feel that I was really there exploring the canals, the historic buildings such as Piazza San Marco, the arts, the shops, even the people. 
I wasn't surprised when the gondolier told me that virtual Venice had been used several times by some colleges to teach tourism. What a great way to teach tourism in one of the most famous tour destinations in the world.....if you cannot do it in physical world, at least you can do it in virtual world. 

I will be back to virtual Venice 40 days before Easter day next year. I don't want to miss the Carnival of Venice that will also be held in Second Life annually. I know what I am going to wear. In fact I have bought a Venetian mask as souvenir during my last visit there. Ciao .......