Nothing really prepares you for the sight of Venice dancing on the waters. You can think you know but then as the water taxi rounds a corner suddenly it is there. Then there are the narrow canals until the boat reaches St Mark's and the Doge's Palace. A little to the left of the square just beyond the Royal gardens is a small canal where the hotel (Luna Baglioni) has its private mooring. Several gondolas are moored and the gondeliers stand about in their black and white hooped shirts. Because there is a chill in the air, one wears a thick jacket.
The hotel staff are politeness itself. They sort out the bags, and show us to the room -- top floor with a view of St Mark's campinelle and the doge's palace. Later, after supper when we return to the room, they have left my husband a bottle of fizz in honour of his 50th. As 8 March was La Festa della Donna ( or International Woman's Day started to honour the Italian seamstresses who perished in the New York fire on 8 March 1908 and for men to appreciate all the work women do), the hotel gave out little boxes of chocolate truffles to its female guests.
During the afternoon, we strolled around, first stopping off at Florian's for hot chocolate and sandwiches. Florian's has lovely tiny rooms beautifully painted. The paintings date from the 1850s. Florian's itself opened its doors in 1720. The hot chocolate was lovely and bitter.
We walked around in the afternoon sunshine, seeing the gondolas massed in St Mark's basin and eventually ending up in the Campo SS Giovanni e Palo. A group of Italian children were playing a late afternoon game of football. They used the door to a 16th hospital as one of the goals and several had to move very swiftly to ensure the football did not end up in the canal!
At 18:30, the bells rang out, summoning the faithful to mass and resounding over the still water. It was then I noticed the stillness. There are no cars, no horns, no sirens, just the gentle lapping of water.
It is easy to get lost, but you can also navigate by churches. When we arrived back at St Mark's Square, the sun was just setting.