Venice is tender, so tender.

Even its superb palaces do not repel you : the facade of the Cà d'Oro, in olden days leafed in gold, opens out on a welcoming and graceful portico and on carved out windows like delicate laces. Your hand reposes with pleasure on the massive white corner stones of the patrician houses or on the velvety bricks of the walls bathing in water.

Everywhere there are steps sinking into the canals, steps on which you can sit, dreaming, your eyes wandering upon the wavelets that come and kiss the stone, while a silent gondola glides in the shadow of a bridge.

Lovers settle on its stone parapet, and they whisper together, observing the canal without even seeing it, its tall close ranged houses, and the evening light outlining a balcony full of foliage, out of which an old piano sounds as if complaining.

You halt in front of a house and you wonder at the magic that fascinates you. Secret proportions run on the facade. The windows speak a wordless language that forces you to stay. On the brick wall, you recognize the two white columns and the stone arch of an ancient door, at present walled and asleep : it seems to be the enchanted door of another world.

Venice is a town which makes you feel at home, in your own garden or your own backyard. You call each other from house to house, you lean out of the balcony to look at the children playing round the sculptured old well. You enter into a courtyard, the silence welcomes you and cancels the remembrance of the outer world. Invisible birds chirp joyously. The garden appears, overburdened with exuberant foliage. Here and there, coming out from the green shadow, some small thoughtful statues, dimmed by days, smile at you and look down, wavering to confide some secret. A majestic and tender balcony holds back a soft blanket, or a crumpled sheet.

Well, as soon as you have taken place in a boat, you realize that the true life of Venice was by water.

Load-boats are good boats. They carry the lettuces and the tomatoes of the Market, fridges and bottle cases, but also sand and cement. Their motor calmly pushes them along the Grand Canal. Their pastel colours match well the Ducal City.

Standing at the bottom of the boat, you can put your elbows on its steady sides, your chin into your hands and your eyes just above water. Then a marvellous journey rises through small canals.

Their calm waters stretch along, turn round lazily or widen. A family of little blue boats rest in a corner, a smaller boat is moored aside, near the bridge, the house over the canal undulates in the moving water.

Sometimes, the canal snuggles by you, the houses lean down and let you cuddle them; to go forward, you must push the walls with your hand. Venice does not resist you, the moored boats let you handle them. Big nails are stuck in the walls : Venetians grasp them and slip from one to another to fetch their boat on the canal. Proceeding, you discover a small emerald green pool with calm water; a high rounded door watches over this intimacy which cannot be seen from the alley; above the door is the sculptured enterprising head of an ancient Venetian, the eyes turned towards Candy, towards Byzantium. A motor boat moves along slowly and creases the azure reflect of the sky. Near the water, a grey window abounds with small simple flower pots; well kept curtains sleep against the pane of glass and the golden sticks of a little bird cage gleam in shadow.

Hey, what is moving, there, just under the water of the canal? A little crab is scraping the green seaweed on the stone and dangling with the waves. A boat is floating beside it. Passing between the houses, the sun saves golden squares of light; a cat, puzzled, has jumped from a window onto the boat and has leant with interest its nose without board. The little crab has disappeared, the boats are talking waving scarcely, the afternoon is lingering and the weather is mild. Yonder, a yard ends in a luminous still canal where a gondola has come to lie in the sunny light of the afternoon.

The load-boat is on its way again. All of a sudden, it comes out on the Grand Canal which resounds with the roar of the motors, and becomes so broad that now it could resemble a lake. We go faster, we are leaving.