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Castello: Convent: Istituto San Giuseppe

Ponte della Guerra, Phone: 041.5225352

Reviewed by: Starlings from Canada, review #3058

When: September 2009

Confortable, Secure and Convenient Budget Accommodations in Venice

View from the room, convent S. Giuseppe, photo by tm

This was our second stay at the Istituto San Giuseppe. It was, as before, an inexpensive and comfortable alternative in central Venice. The curfew is 11pm in the summer, 10:30 in winter. The staff, especially Maria, were kind and helpful. We were able to communicate by email (in Italian) this time around: ospitality@alice.it

The rate was E37 per person per night; they request a E50 deposit in the form of a traveler's cheque. Breakfast is not offered.

A small fan was provided in the room which helped with the heat. Early September was a very buggy time, and the walls were covered in bloody squashed bugs when we arrived. They sent someone to clean when we requested, but this indicated a drop in the cleaning standards from our previous visit, when the room was spotless.

I trust this was an exception during a very busy time at the convent, and would not let it deter me from staying there again.

Reviewed by: Leslie from Australia, review #1734

When: October 2006

I highly recommend this quiet, peaceful convent hotel to travelers wishing to stay in Castello in close proximity to Campo Santa Maria Formosa and San Marco.

Front entrance to Istituto San Giuseppe, photo by Sherry

As the usual Castello apartment was not available for this trip, we decided to stay at a convent and chose Istituto San Giuseppe for the location and also because of the good Slow Travel reviews. I am not Catholic, but still spend a large amount of time inside Italian churches.

There is a landing stage outside the front door (see picture), often used to tie up sleeping gondolas, the garbage scow or the supply barge for the nearby SUVE grocery store. Our water taxi dropped us off there.

You buzz to be let in and out, and it is preferred that this is between 6.30am and 10.30pm. The sisters and the lay staff go out of their way to be friendly and polite. Almost all conversation will be in Italian, so practice your Italian phrases beforehand. There is usually someone at the reception desk – if there isn’t, there is a bell.

The rooms are sparklingly clean and very, very quiet. We had room 12 (which is a double) and room 13 (a single) next door to each other. The bathrooms are new. There is a lot of cupboard space. The beds are firm but very comfortable. For this price, there aren’t the glossy extras like bar fridge or television. You never hear any sounds at all from your rooms apart from the neighborhood church bells.

There is a vending machine on the ground floor that I used often – it has soft drinks, cookies, candy – that sort of thing. There is another set up on the first or second floor with free tea and coffee from a machine for those who prefer that.

There are some charming courtyards. You go through a large one after the front door, then after passing through the big hall with the vending machine, there is a another smaller courtyard filled with potted plants on the way to the elevator that takes you and your luggage up to your room.

Do have a look at the Venetian “piano nobile” up on the second floor. What a beautiful room! You will get a lovely surprise. This convent is also a preschool. A couple of times I watched the teachers and the nuns with the children. You never hear any sounds at all from your rooms apart from the neighborhood church bells.

I paid 40 euros each per night for my single room and stayed for eight short nights. I highly recommend this convent hotel to travelers wishing to stay in an inexpensive hotel in Castello who desire peace and quiet and close proximity to Campo Santa Maria Formosa and San Marco. There is a SUVE supermarket and a take away pizza place one minute away. I had breakfast each morning at Bar Cometa, on the corner of Calle de la Bande and Salizada S. Lio (where the supermarket is). It was a very tranquil way to start the trip.

Reviewed by: Starlings from Canada, review #1572

When: October 2005

Unbeatable price for clean and comfortable accommodations at the intersection of San Marco and Castello districts, if you aren’t bothered by a curfew.

Istituto San Giuseppe, Venice, photo by tm

I stayed at the Istituto for four nights in October 2005, and later referred two other couples who stayed there in November 2005 and January 2006. We were all extremely satisfied with our stay. At 70 euros per night for two people, we couldn’t imagine a better deal in Venice.

We reserved by fax in English with a poor Italian translation. They responded by fax with a very small map and a request for a 50 euro traveller's cheque for a deposit. We sent a cheque but did not receive further confirmation. We were mildly concerned about our reservation, but all was in order when we arrived.

Ponte de la guerre is approximately 5-7 minutes walk from San Marco, over one small bridge with stairs, and 5 minutes to Rialto. The location is perfect; just on the fringe of the main tourist attractions. Some people may want to be further from that, but it is ideal for transportation and orientation purposes and is good for a first time visitor. There is a grocery store around the corner and restaurants all around. It is on a canal but the rooms face an interior courtyard and a backstreet. Better restaurants are available if you walk away from San Marco, rather than toward it.

The convent is perfectly clean, with hot showers and firm but comfortable twin beds. All rooms have a private bath with a shower, bidet, hot water, and a toilet that works. Bedding and towels are in good condition. There was some noise between rooms and you could hear the sounds of guests’ beds sliding apart during the night.

I stayed with my female partner and our friends who stayed there after us (straight couples with the same surname) were not asked about the nature of their relationships. I can't say whether or not they will raise an eyebrow at two men, or an unmarried straight couple staying together.

As with most convents in Italy, there is a curfew that varies by season. When we were there, the curfew was 10:30 pm, but as we are morning people we were knackered by then and had no problem making it back in time.

The convent hosts a school as well; when there are little ones around the nuns ask you to exit through a different door. You must buzz in and out of the building, but there is no problem coming in and out during the day. You leave your key when you go out so they know who is and isn't in.

The pleasant male and female door attendants speak some English, but we communicated mostly with charades and broken Italian. No tourist support is offered (restos, directions etc), but if you are a quiet respectful person who goes to bed early and appreciates a good deal, this is the place for you.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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