Footsteps echo on the ancient ciotolo as you wind your way through her alleys like a mouse in a maze.
During high season you can hear the build up of commotion as you approach the center until you come out of the final calle and are hit with a crescendo of human racket!
But, visit her after Carnevale ends in February or around November prior to the Christmas holidays and she is ancient, poetic and noble.
In the quiet you can enjoy the sound of water lapping against the fondamenta, the squeaks and creaks of the anchored gondolas gently rocking and you can hearsnippets of Veneziano being spoken through open windows.
Although Venice by night is mystical and magical (unforgettable really), my most favorite time to spend with her is dawn.
Just like seeing a beautiful woman in the early morning with no makeup or accoutrements, so to Venice is naturally beautiful (defects and all) in the early morning light. Gulls squall and there is a tinge of humid chill in the air, even in summer, between the old high walls that flank the narrow cobbled streets. A hint of algae reminds you that the Adriatic is a stone’s throw away.
The deeper you venture away from the main arteries, the more you enter thedaily pulse: children being dropped off at the asilo, vendors setting up their vegetable stands, bars opening, not to throngs, but to a smattering of regulars reading the newspaper basking in the morning sun.
Locals are on the move, the mouth watering scent of espresso and brioche fills the air.
Venice wakes up slowly. She is after all 1600 years old.
Experience the reverberation of light and sound as each one bounces off the high walls and cobblestones, and then floats away over the water.
As you pass Palazzo Barbaro imagine Henry James inside working on his, The Aspern Papers, envision Tintoretto at work in the Scuola di San Rocco, feel the sadness of the Jewish Venetians while walking through the Jewish Ghetto in Cannaregio.
And all around there is water reflected on buildings and buildings reflected on water.
Keep staring and you will forget which one is real and which the reflection. This is the other-worldliness of a hushed Venice that is all yours to explore.