I flew out of a sunny London into a rainy Venice. But how can Venice be anything other than beautiful so it’s great to be back. Both Sandro and Walter were in reception when I arrived at Hotel Al Ponte Mocenigo and it was very good to see them again. It’s 9 years since I first stayed at this lovely little hotel in Santa Croce and it never fails to be a delight to return. I’ve sometimes come alone – as this time – but also at times with family and also my friend Annie in 2012. What keeps bringing me back to Venice? I think it’s just that I’m a little in love with the place. It may be thought of as a city for romance but to date the only romance I’ve enjoyed here is with the city itself! There is the food of course – wonderful little cicchetti with a glass of Prosecco by the Grand Canal is a kind of heaven. And then there’s the water. I always love being near water, be it the sea or a river – as at home where I live a few minutes walk from the Thames. But there’s a kind of joyful lightness to Venice – such as Vivaldi must have found when composing his beautiful music here. Yes it’s full of tourists but the great thing about coming back again and again is knowing where to go to avoid large crowds and find a little peace and some locals. I arrived in time for a late lunch and headed off to Rialto market and the nearby Sotoportego de l’Erberia where I have so often sat by the Grand Canal for drinks or lunch. It definitely wasn’t a day for sitting outside. My ‘usual’ bar was closed so instead I went into Ancora which turned out to be good too. The cicchetti looked good but I ordered an antipasti plate of seafood – mantecato (creamed cod), sardines Venetian style with onions in sweet and sour sauce and stuffed baby octopus. Accompanied of course by a glass of prosecco. I wandered on in rain, thankfully with a large umbrella I’d borrowed from the hotel to keep me dry. Part of the Rialto bridge is covered in scaffolding due to repairs. A few days ago I saw photos of high water – acqua alta – around the area making it virtually impassable so maybe the repairs are connected to that? I could pass across and over towards San Marco. I just wandered, no particular intent other than to enjoy being here. When I noticed a Rosa Salva pastry shop I had to divert into it though. I’d read about how good they are – a small chain in Venice. Well how could I resist? A slice of gorgeous chocolate cake and pot of tea later I emerged to slowly make my way back to the hotel and a little down time before going out in the evening.