In the morning we travel sleepily through the flat fresh greenery of unremarkable countryside. Then we are rolling on a long causeway over the lagoon, which is smooth and calm. The light is brilliant. Santa Lucia is a terminus so our arrival is relaxed and enjoyable. The sleeper carriage is the last, so we travel the full length of the narrow platform before we stand at the broad Rationalist portal of the station. And it’s an explosion. We are standing on the banks of the Canal Grande; colour, noise, sunshine, a throng of bobbing boats, opaque limestone coloured water, the temple opposite, people peeling off right and left. Like a Canaletto with speedboats. And the exotic rich facades of the buildings that line the canal.

We stop, stare and take a vaporetto to San Marco.

Venice is unique, its like a big round cake full of fruit, chocolate and spices that has risen evenly to a height of 5 storeys. The open space is the lagoon itself.

Apart from the serpentine Canale Grande cutting though, the many small squares, canals and calle are no more than fissures and marks in the rich and dense built fabric of coloured masonry buildings built on long, long timber piles.

We walk through Venice and sit in its sheltered, almost indoors, open spaces.