One of the best things about living in Milan is how easy it is to get out of Milan. With a few days to spare before work started after new year, Mr A and I did some quick research on the internet, booked a hotel and got on a train. Within a couple of hours, we had gone from Milan, the ugly economic and industrial powerhouse of Italy and perhaps the only place in the whole country where things actually work, to glorious, historical, impractical Venice.
We had both been to Venice before, but only in the summer, when the temperatures are high and the crowds are stifling. On a January evening, the remains of a snowfall were still lying on the streets, which were deserted to the point of being eerie, and gondolas slipped through the mist, seen and then unseen in the patchy light.
In the morning, the weather was bright and clear and we set out into the city. One of the best things to do in Venice is just walk, and that is what we did. Even in the crowded areas, it was relaxing to wander without the noise and the chaos of the Milanese traffic. I do wonder, though, how on earth people do things like moving house in Venice, where there are so many buildings you can't even get to by boat, never mind by car or with a lorry.
We arrived at Piazza San Marco at the end of the morning, visited the basilica and climbed the Campanile. The Campanile is a 100m high bell tower that has spectacular views all over Venice and across the lagoon to the mainland. Unfortunately, the winds at 100m were bitingly cold and we physically couldn't stand to stay up there for long but it was worth it all the same.