Float with me a while, along Venice's strangely silken waters. The morning is unseasonably hot and when the canal takes an eastward turn, you shade your eyes in the glare. At unexpected corners, the water sparkles in the sun like shards of fine Murano glass.
Your gondolier isn't of the singing persuasion, only whistling fragments of tunes at intervals, but this suits you because the soft splash of oar on water lulls you into gentle thoughtfulness.
You still your imagination: you wouldn't want to be anywhere but right here.
The air is thick with centuries past. Each sweep of the gondolier's oar takes you further back in time.
From this window, Vivaldi once watched over the canal with symphonies in his heart. Behind that window, Casanova practiced glorious seductions. And out of that doorway Marco Polo once walked, en route to discover new worlds.
You discover time was unfolding while you were drifting. You are now in a world as ancient as it is beautiful. Twisted laneways, rough with cobblestones, wind in picturesque labyrinths that make being lost a glorious joy.
Life on these islands is lived in concert with the centuries. There are no cars, not one. Family laundry is strung across narrow streets. Small children leap like seasoned sailors from footbridges into waiting boats. Mossy steps slope from home front doors directly into canals. A fruit vendor sells his wares from a watery stall.
In these narrow streets, colour explodes out of tiny, ancient shops. You long to buy it all: the hand-stitched, marbled paper notebooks; spectacular glass bowls, vases and chandeliers; menageries of phantasmagorical carnivale masks; delicate lace that smiling women stitch while you watch; and antique decoupage music boxes depicting dancing jesters and masked lovers.