Winter is the best time to be in Venice. The sense of it being overwhelmed by tourists diminishes, there are days when you can wander around San Marco and be practically the only person there. The calle Castello practically deserted.

Venice is very familiar to me and I come as often as I can (I avoid the high summer months) to wander around the neighborhoods of Dorsoduro, Cannareggio and Castello where one can still find Venetians going about their daily life. I am always astounded that it exists, there is no other place on earth that is so mesmerizing or beautiful, an open air art gallery, every vista memorable.

One needs to get lost in Venice, throw away their guide books and just let the city envelope you, there is nothing more serene than being off the beaten ‘calle’, catching glimpses of Venetians as residents, boats gliding along canals moving wares and supplies.

Hard to believe but one can still eat very well and reasonably in Venice. One of my favourites is Ristorante Riveria on the Z.attere in Dorsoduro, a small quite elegant dining room with exemplary service, Al Covo in Castello for delicious slow food and an old time favourite Osteria L’Anice Stellato.

Art and beauty is everywhere to be found, from the grand works in the Accademia to the sublime collections of the Peggy Guggenhiem. Venice encapsulates the Italian concept of ‘la bellezza per se’. Beauty for it’s own sake, if you ignore the industry of ‘mass tourism’ and look deep, there are still artisans that work away in their ateliers producing beautiful works using traditional skills that have mercifully not been lost. What a concept it would be for the the City of Venice’s ruling classes to ban all sorts of inappropriate commercial merchandise that is made as far away as Asia, no more fridge magnets, fake murano nic nacs, all sorts of kitsch and promote locally made artisanal wares that are curated to ensure a standard of design and quality. Venice is not a vast metropolis, it is contained not an impossible task.