Marco Polo (1254-1324) was the intrepid Venetian traveler to the East whose skill, enterprise, and fascination with the cultures he encountered along the great Silk Road brought him to the Court of Kublai Khan first in 1266, and again in 1274, bearing gifts from the newly elected Pope Gregory. An engaging storyteller and skilled diplomat, Polo served the Khan with distinction for the next 17 years. The Polo family returned to Venice in 1295, creating a sensation with their stories of the exotic East. Marco recorded the history of his travels and his dealings with the Great Khan and his fellow countrymen in his magnum opus, Il Milione. He is my hero, my inspiration, and my guide in “the realms of gold,” as Keats termed the world of the beckoning unknown.