Science: Voyage 1

With a few expert motions of his oar, Fabio Carrera sends the long batèla boat gliding around a corner in this maze of canals. Suddenly, a dim patch of stars is the only light and the gentle swish of water the only sound. The experience evokes a centuries-old past, when Venice was one of the most powerful city-states in the Western world. But times have changed. One clue is the outboard motors pro- truding from beneath the tarps of moored boats. Another comes in the approach to the tunnel beneath Santo Stefano Church.