Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Saving Money and Living More Like a Venetian
Denise Marie of Venice Rentals
After 12 years of living here in Italy, as an ex-pat from Boston married to a Venetian man living on the beach island of Lido, I have advice that I think can be of interest for all of you coming to see this beautiful city.
Not many people know about this little treasure in Venice. The Telecom company has set up inside a historical building in the Campo (square) of S. Salvadore, just behind the Rialto Line 82 area, a room full of computers where you may use the internet or check your email for free. In addition, you may also use the computers set up with info. on Venice and the rooms full of the history of the phone company as well.
Upon entering the building ask for a red card, they usually will be there handing them out, if not, just ask. You will have 30 minutes usage with this card. To start, just enter the card in the slot to the right and type in your name and go! If you run out of time, you may get another card.
Best View and Free Taxi
I love to take the Cipriani taxi over to their hotel on the Guidecca facing S. Marco Square, in the evening to have a Bellini in the most pretty gardens of Venice. Not many people know this but the hotel Cipriani run a continuous taxi service to and from their hotel from in front of S. Marks Square, towards the area of the tourist info. center, near Harry's bar. The hotel is divine, the gardens, beautiful and the pool area a one of a kind for Venice. Even if you are not sleeping there and wish to have a drink in their bar or garden, you may take this free water taxi.
I would highly recommend staying for dinner at the Cip's Club, their lesser priced restaurant, situated on a floating barge overlooking the entire S. Marco basin.
Late Nights, Early Mornings
The absolute best time to see Venice is after midnight and before 7am. There is nobody around and you will feel as though you are in a private water taxi going down the Grand Canal even if you are on a usually very crowded, public vaporetto boat.
See the sites late afternoons to avoid long lines.
Stand at the Bar
We never eat sandwiches or have a drink at a table because you will pay double the price for taking up that seat! If you are just looking for a snack, or a drink, don't sit, it could cost you dearly.
Once, just once, out of sheer exhaustion, I sat down for a drink with a girlfriend that was visiting me here. What a mistake that was. We had two small salami sandwiches and two cokes for 18 euro, which is approx. $25 nowadays! The bill was inflated by 10 Euros, due to the 4 euro per person for the lousy uncomfortable seat we took up and for the sandwiches costing 1 euro each more if we at them at the table.
Don't Touch the Merchandise
Never unfold clothing from a shelf in a store to touch it and feel the texture or even to get a better look. Always ask for assistance before touching anything. Italians, well, Venetians are afraid your hands may be dirty with drippings of chocolate gelato and you could potentially ruin their merchandise.
Another place you definitely don't touch is at the fruit vendor! Don't squeeze, pick up, or even sniff from a distance, or you will get reprimanded! You cannot imagine how many times I see Americans picking and choosing their own fruit and veggies at a vendor while waiting for the owner to come out hollering at them. I usually whisper it quickly in their ear if I can that its forbidden to touch the fruit here. Most Americans thank me up and down and appreciate me from saving them from the embarrassment.
I love going to the Billa or Coop supermarkets because there, with a plastic glove on, supplied by them, you may touch, squeeze, or even smell the fruit in a stressfree environment. The downside is that the fruit is usually of a lesser quality here and it comes in less mature to have a longer shelf life.
See Instructions for Visitors: Food Shopping for more notes about food shops.
Tipping When Sitting Down Dining in Restaurants
We generally don't leave an extra tip because on your bill will be a service charge of usually 20%. If your waiter was great, leave 2 euro. If you are eating at Harry's bar, leave 10 euro (a big waste of money by the way).
Stamp your Boat Ticket
Before boarding a boat, you must stamp your ticket in the little yellow box on both sides of the platform. If you forget, tell the guy that ties up the boat to stamp it for you. You will avoid a fine of 30 euro if you get checked by the controllers.
If you bought a boat pass, you only stamp it once, on the first journey.
Use Only Banks
Never change money anywhere except for a bank. The hidden fees and higher rates that exchange places charge will be steep.
Calling Home Cheap
If you want to call the US from Italy buy a Europa card at any Tobacco shop. For 5 Euros you will have 180 minutes, if dialing from a home telephone, to America. That's right 5 Euros for 180 minutes, I have tried all the cards, these are the best.
How to do it. Dial the number on the back of the card. 800-969-577, I know it by heart, scratch off your secret number on the bottom and enter it when asked to (in English), then follow it with the number you wish to dial. To call the US from Italy you dial 001 then area code and number.
See Instructions for Visitors: Phones for more phone information.
Scams on the Streets
Don't buy those paper Mickey Mouse things that claim to be dancing beside the radios. They are attached by a wire type string and are a scam.
Also, be aware of the pocketbook vendors. If you let on you are interested they won't leave you alone and practically follow you home until you give in. Best to look the other way.
Gondolas for Less
If you really must take a gondola, take it from Santa Maria Formosa or another square smack in the center of Venice that may not get much tourist traffic. They cost approximately 20 euro less and give better rides along tiny, much less busy canals.
Denise Marie runs Venice Rentals, vacation rentals in Venice, Italy.
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