LAKEWOOD RANCH — Although the public square in Venice, Italy, proved to be a somewhat familiar site, it still stole the breath of East County businesswoman Barb Smith, who visited the plaza for the first time earlier this month.
“It was breathtaking,” Smith says. “I felt like I was still at home. The people in the square were friendly. It was just like home, except for the pigeons.”
Smith, who owns 2nd Ann Rose Consignment Boutique in San Marco Plaza in Lakewood Ranch, visited Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy, during an Adriatic and Mediterranean cruise last month. She and fellow San Marco Plaza business owners, husband-and-wife team Kevin Neurer and Victoria Roberts, of Victoria L. Roberts CFP, Roberts’ mother, East County resident Lillian Graziano, and other friends, returned from their roughly two-week trip Nov. 11.
San Marco Plaza, Smith says, was one of the group’s first stops. The scene may not have been exact, but Smith says the Lakewood Ranch plaza, with its central clock tower, is clearly modeled after its namesake.
“It’s much more ornate (in Italy),” Barb Smith says. “There’s a theater there and an old castle next to it. The clock tower is taller. It’s a square and people gather and drink coffee. There’re restaurants and boutiques.”
Neurer shared similar sentiments.
“The charm of Venice can’t be captured; nothing compares with what you have in Venice, but it (is) fun to share a name,” Neurer says of the plaza. “(What we have is) like a miniature model (of it).”
“It’s (neat) to be named after a place that’s so famous and so beautiful,” he says. “When you look at the tower in (our) plaza, it’s a little reminder of being in Venice.”
During their cruise, the Smiths, Roberts, Neurer and other attendees toured other cities in Italy, including Rome, Ravenna, Catania, Naples and Sicily, and also visited places such as Kotor, Montenegro and Croatia.
Smith says she enjoyed visiting the Vatican and other churches, the Colosseum, Pompeii and other attractions.
“It was a great time,” Neurer said of the trip. “We had excellent ports, great cities and fun people to travel with. There really wasn’t a bad part of the trip. We enjoyed it from Venice to Rome and everything in between.”
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].