I have found the best place to enjoy the snow in Venice, quite by accident.
You must go to the Giardini at 10am. The path through the park will be fairly untroubled by footprints and the snowflakes falling from the trees will dance under the sun (or perhaps it will still be snowing – that’s even better).
If you pass the fresh fish stall on Via Garibaldi and enter the park from there, you will soon come to a place selling flowers on trestle tables – it will look like a workshop, and you might expect to see a bare allotment nearby. But then you’ll see the glint of a greenhouse from behind a hedge – or perhaps it’s better described as an orangery. Anyway, a sign will tell you that it is the Serra dei Giardini.
You will notice the potted lemon trees outside, the puckered fruit frosted with ice. And then, if you’re really lucky, you will hear music as you walk towards the entrance. If you are more cultured than I am, you’d say it was Beethoven or Mozart, but whoever it is, you might say it sounds the way 18th century Vienna might have on a Saturday morning in spring.
If you peer into the greenhouse you might see a women inside, playing the piano utterly sublimely. But more importantly, you’ll notice empty chairs! And tables! And menus for hot chocolate! Aha, it’s a cafe!
And because it is snowy and a sense of anarchy has descended on your midweek work day, you’ll step inside and order tea and listen to the woman playing the piano for a while in that empty, sun-filled cafe.
I can’t promise there will always be a concert pianist playing inside, although she did seem quite at home there, so maybe you’ll be in luck. But it will still feel enchanting, drinking something hot and looking outside at the frozen lemons, all while wondering how they’ll ever thaw out into something juicy and ripe.
As I’m writing this in my notebook while sipping my tea, I can’t tell you with complete certainty where to go next, but a walk through the Giardini to the top of the city’s tail sounds good. From there you’ll be able to see the shimmer of the lagoon’s half-frozen scales and, in the distance, the frosted dome of Saint Mark’s.