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Uncle Joe - St. Mark's Basilica PhotoWhile scanning our family photos, I always kind of wondered where this one was taken. On the right is my Great-Uncle Josef Simanek, and he is standing with a woman in front of a beautiful building.

The family came from a village in Czechoslovakia and I believe he later lived in Prague, so I always assumed it was something from that city.

Uncle Joe - St. Mark's Basilica Photo, Rear
Today I happened upon it and recalled that there was some writing on the back of the photo. Since it is in Czech I broke out The Google Translate and tried to read the writing. I tried many variations of the words, and didn’t really get anywhere beyond the first phrase:

“Kostel sv. Marka celý s mramoru”
“Church of Sts. Mark all with marble”

Uncle Joe Simanek and Lillian Vanac on a MotorcycleSeeing his riding outfit made me think he might be on a road trip, which led me to this other photo of him years before sitting on a motorcycle with my 5 year old mother on the back.

(Aside: My most vivid memory of Uncle Joe was on his visit to New York in the 1970’s or so, when he brought us all small gifts from back home. I still have the toy antique car that he gave me.)

Back to “Church of Sts. Mark” – a quick look around the Googles and I immediately found photos of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice – a perfect match.

St. Mark's Basilica Photo

Source: Ricardo André Frantz* (Tetraktys on Wikipedia)

St. Mark’s is located just off the Grand Canal in Venice, and was completed in the present form around 1071.

A very nice reference on the history of the Basilica can be found over at the Sacred Destinations web site.

I would love to have a motorcycle like Uncle Joe’s (not to mention his cool leather riding outfit) and take a cross country trip as his photo appears to suggest.

I should also add that my sister reminded me that Uncle Joe was an architect – which brings to mind an even more romantic vision of his traveling around post-WWII Europe on a motorcycle visiting architectural marvels.

*My WordPress theme does not seem to like links in photo captions. So, here is a link back to the Wikipedia User Tetraktys, the owner of the contemporary St. Mark’s photo at bottom. It is worth a click, as he has many beautiful photos on his profile.

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