THERE’S one thing nicer than Venice on a blue-sky day, and that’s Venice when the mist is hanging low and there’s a chill in the air.
On those days the tourists stay away, so the alleys are less crowded, and the locals can take their time getting around rather than having to rush between the tour groups or duck out of the way of a visitor taking a photograph.
The gondoliers, dressed in their stripy shirts, have time to stand and chat beside a canal and the waiters working in the Piazza San Marco cafes can linger with a customer rather than just darting from one table to the next serving drinks.
On a dreary day the background disappears into the fog, so you can take the time to enjoy the buildings that are right in front of you.
You notice the rose-coloured glass in the street lights in front of Palazzo Ducale, the wrought-iron grills and lead-light windows in the front of the Grand Canal houses, and the different patterns in the marble on the walls of the Basilica San Marco.
We had one of those perfect Venice days today and got to see the aging beauties of Venice – the majestic old buildings that line the banks of the Grand Canal – shrouded in a light fog that gave the whole city a tranquil stillness.
The dreary day also worked in our favour and we were able to see the inside one Venetian landmark that we managed to miss on previous visits.
We got to visit inside the Basilica San Marco – there were only a couple of people in the line, rather than the hundreds of tourists who are usually waiting to visit – so we got to drift through the cavernous space.
We stood on marble floors laid in the 11th century, which look like the most complicated patchwork quilts but made from marble, and gazed at the golden mosaics that seemed to cover every surface.
The church’s design is based on a Greek cross – each “arm” is divided into three naves with a dome sitting high above each separate space – and the 80000sqm of mosaic are so golden it feels like the whole thing was inspired by a Gianni Versace collection.
On the way back to our cosy little house we stopped for a rest at the top of the Rialto Bridge, and didn’t have to fight for space on the famous Venetian landmark.
We could stand at the top and watch the gondolas, water taxis and vaporettos darting below without being hurried by other visitors looking to take the perfect Grand Canal photo.