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Three steps and a porch swing.

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The four of us (two Venetian locals, two born in the U.S.A.) had just finished una cena improvvisata on Anna’s 4th-floor terrazzina that hovers over the Rio San Lio, when the last, late-night

 gondola group boisterously (if with some difficulty) disembarked below us. “Buena sayra,” they each say in turn, teetering off with two half-full bottles of wine in hand. The gondolier responds with a perfunctory buona notte as he shoves a fistful of cash in his pocket, and pushes off for home.

“I’ve never been in the U.S.” recounts Anna, “so I have no idea what it’s really like. But we have this one, very consistent image from all the movies we’ve seen. At least all the older ones.”

Ah, lovingly-conjured bygone film images. Wherever this was leading, it was going to be good.

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