The first time I saw Venice it was November, time of mists and floods when the water rises and infiltrates St. Mark's square, as if it can't stand not to be rotting the foundations of the Doge's Palace with its murky fingers for one moment longer. We were there for three days and each day the water rose higher until eventually they put up a rough scaffolding of wooden tables lashed together on which you could walk without having to wade through three feet of canal dredge. It was superb. Everything, including the seriously ornate Doge's Palace, was reflected in the water, which made it seem like Venice was composed of two distinct worlds, one of light and air, the other of darkness and water. We drank cups of the thickest, sweetest hot chocolate I've ever tasted to keep out the damp and listened to the old whispers, maybe those of Casanova as he planned his escape from the dungeon of that place, whispers behind and above everything, that never seem to be fully absent from this place.