National Geographic : 1951 Sep
i,.'. J39 Reflected Light Makes Venice's Piazza di Echo San Marco Seem Covered with Water Its pavement of marble and trachyte helps produce the illusion. Gondolas for hire line the Molo (quay) in front of the Palace of the Doges, old-time rulers of the city, beyond the Campanile (pages 402 and 410). The five-domed Church of St. Mark was built originally A. D. 830, later rebuilt and altered. As I sat in the glass veranda of the Nave d'Oro, an Italian, who had spent many years in America and had worked on the Alaska Railroad at Seward, came to talk to me. During the war he had been English in terpreter to Allied troops, and proudly showed me a certificate signed by General Alexander in gratitude for the help given "to the sailors, soldiers, and airmen of the British Common wealth of Nations which enabled them to escape from or evade capture by the enemy." "Mind you," said Mr. Battista candidly, "I was dead scared all the time. One of the first escapes I helped was in 1943, when the SS troops were here. One night we heard a soft scratching at the window. It was a friend to tell me he had a man who spoke no Italian, and he thought he was English. "'Bring him along,' I told him. 'But, whatever you do, tell no one else.' At that time the Germans were offering 3,000 lire for information about such soldiers." For seven nights Mr. Battista and his wife hid this Yorkshire soldier in their home, letting him sleep on the living-room couch. When it was safe for him to go, they made a sketch map of his route for him. He reached home in time for his 25th birthday, and two weeks later married the girl who had been waiting for him.