It was the first day of summer vacations when Aunt Hina phoned and invited Ahmed and Danial to Italy where Uncle Ali was recently posted in a Pakistan embassy. The following week the twins were very busy preparing for the trip. At last the moment came when they boarded Emirates Airline for Venice. On the plane Ahmed who had been reading about Italy told Danial in a scholarly voice, “Did you know that Venice is the only city built entirely on water in the world? It is built on 100 islets and linked by 400 bridges. Italy has 3000 museums, churches and archaeological sites dating back to Roman and Greek Times.” Danial was impressed. At the airport Rabab and Amna were waiting impatiently because they had not seen each other for almost a year. When Danial and Ahmed arrived, Rabab said, “The Challengers are back together once again.” Aunt Hina informed them that they are joining a travel group and will visit Venice, Florence and Rome. They all went to their hotel which was situated on the main shopping street in Venice. In the launch they met other members of the travel group. In the evening they headed for the closest gondola pier where they begin a forty-five minute ride through the city. They also enjoyed the traditional Venetian songs sung by the gondolier. All the members of their travel group were friendly except Mr. and Mrs. Johnson who kept to themselves. Next day the whole group was met by a local guide who took them on a three hour walking tour to ‘St. Mark’s Basicilla’ which was very attractive due to its rich decoration of marbles and golden mosaics. Next they visited ‘doge’s palace’ where they discovered that it was once the seat of government and residence of doges. When Danial saw a pizza restaurant he told the others that last night he had a wonderful dream in which he was eating pizzas so Aunt Hina took them to a famous pizza restaurant. There the chef told them an interesting story about the origin of pizza, “Long ago a baker wanted to make something to please the king. The Italian flag is red, white and green so he decided to put red tomatoes, white sticky cheese and green herbs on bread. This treat was called pizza.” The next morning they went to a famous museum. Mrs. Johnson was wearing a heavy necklace and someone advised her to put her necklace in the hotel safe as it might get stolen, Mrs. Johnson laughed and said that the necklace was artificial. When the curator told them about Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael Danial said excitedly, “Oh! I want to meet them and maybe they can teach me karate.” Ahmed said, “No they can’t because they have been dead since many years and anyway they are artists not stupid cartoon turtles!” The curator also told them, “Leonardo da Vinci was a clever artist and inventor. He had designed a flying machine about 500 years ago. He also painted the world’s most famous painting the Mona Lisa.” Ahmed asked, “Where is the Mona Lisa?” The curator said, “The Mona Lisa is now on display in a museum in France.” Later they heard surprising news that a precious gem had been stolen from the head of the statue in the museum they had visited earlier in the day. In the afternoon they went to the Venice railway station to board the train to Florence. At night they reached Florence and were taken to their hotel. After dinner they gathered in their room and Rabab exclaimed excitedly, “Did you notice how brightly Mrs. Johnson’s necklace was shining in the dining room’s light.” Amna replied, “Yes this thing was confusing me as well.” The next day they all had nothing to do so they went for a picnic. Surprisingly Mr. and Mrs. Johnson also joined them. After the picnic the children decided to swim in the lake nearby. Mrs. Johnson also joined them. But she didn’t take off her necklace. When she came out of the river she noticed that her necklace had gone. Mrs. Johnson wailed loudly and the park guard came running. Everyone was surprised as they knew that Mrs. Johnson’s necklace was artificial. Amna and the park guard jumped into the lake. Some other people also came to help find the necklace. After some time the divers came back with no clue of the necklace. Soon the whole party went back to the hotel. When back in their room Amna took out the necklace from a pocket and showed it to others. In the evening they pleaded Aunt Hina to take them to the police station. At the police station they told a policeman about their suspicion and left the necklace to be examined. The next day a phone call came from the police saying that the necklace contained a diamond stolen from the famous museum. The police also said that they would be coming over to arrest the culprits. The police came and arrested the culprits and asked them questions. Mr. Johnson said that he had acted of having a pain in his chest and everyone had rushed to his side while Mrs. Johnson had quickly pulled off the middle stone of her necklace and had replaced it with the diamond on the head of the statue. After all the excitement the children went for a 10 hour tour to Siena, San Gimignano and Pisa. First they went to the picturesque medieval town of San Gimignano where they visited the Palazzo Del Popolo, now the municipal museum containing Renaisance paintings and the church of Saint Agostino. Next they visited the Tuscan town of Siena. Siena is built on three hills and is enclosed by a set of walls and gates. They also visited the Piazza Del Campo which is one of the finest main squares in Italy and the Palazzo Pubblico which has served as Siena’s town hall since the 1300’s. Last of all they visited Piazza dei Miracoli and the famous leaning tower of Pisa. They also came to know that the leaning tower is the bell tower of a cathedral in Pisa. The next morning they arrived in Rome by train. At the embassy Uncle Ali greeted them. After lunch they visited the Piazza Navona which was once a Roman racetrack and the Pantheon, originally a temple to the gods and more recently a church. The next day they went to Vatican City. Vatican City is a country inside Rome and Swiss guards watch over the city and the Pope. In Vatican City they visited famous museums such as the Sistine Chapel. Here they saw the famous ceiling which was painted by the famous artist Michelangelo lying on his back for 52 days. They also visited St. Peters Basicilla which is a huge church. They spend the rest of the evening playing. The next day they were very sad as it was time to go back. Uncle Ali, Aunt Hina, Amna and Rabab waved goodbye as Ahmed and Danial boarded the Emirates Airline to Karachi.