Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 150: Vacanza Bella, Corte Moretta
1bed/1bath apartment, Venice
September 2001, 1 week
We rented an apartment in Venice from Vacanza Bella for a two-week period in September 2001. The agency is a small one in San Francisco with whom we had dealt on previous occasions. The head of the agency is named Daniel Morneau; we've found him very helpful and always concerned to make sure that the rentals and the renters matched. We were very happy with the Venice rental.
The website is very good in terms of its accurate depiction of the available properties. However, Daniel does not deal with potential renters by email. Here's his explanation: "If you see a place you like, pick up the phone and call me. I work exclusively by phone, not by fax or email. Why? Because renting a place overseas is extremely specialized. Each property is different, and each of you is different. I want to hear your voice and hear what it is you're looking for. I don't want you to stay in any old place; I want you to find the place that's right for you. I strongly believe that can happen only through a series of personal conversations."
This policy has worked for us. We have gotten along very well with Daniel. However, some people have found Daniel a bit prickly. He has very little patience with people who expect a replication of American vacation experiences in an Italian property.
I recommend that anybody considering a rental through this agency read some of Daniel's essays at the website, on "Cities and their Vicissitudes," "What Renting in Italy Means," and, for Venice, Daniel's "Sample Two Week Venice Itinerary," all of which give you an idea of the agency owner's attitude toward his operation and his clients. Vacanza Bella calls the apartment we rented "Corte Moretta." If you want to see what it looks like, go to the http://vbella.com website, click on "City Rentals," then on "Venice," then on "Corte Moretta." The photos and descriptions are very accurate.
It is actually located on a narrow street, calle dei Orbi, rather than on Corte Moretta. The windows of the living/dining/room and kitchen open out on Corte Moretta, a small, pretty courtyard completely enclosed by houses, except for one entrance from the street, with a well in the middle. The windows of the other side of the flat (the bedroom windows) open out onto calle dei Orbi. There is one flight of steps up to the apartment (no elevator).
It is an old building (like everything else in this district!). We had no outside sitting area, but the sitting room with windows overlooking the courtyard was very pleasant. I don't know too much about the other residents of the building. The apartment on the landing next to us was being renovated while we were there; the family on the next level was away for most of the time we were there, and after they came back we never got a chance to meet them except to say hello on the landing. The workmen on the apartment being renovated made a bit of noise during the day. At night everything was dead quiet except the one evening the other residents of the courtyard had an outdoors dinner in one corner of the courtyard -- with candles, lively conversation but no music and they left by about 10 p.m.
We liked the location very much. It was very quiet but extremely convenient. The San Samuele vaporetto stop is about five minutes away. It is about a one minute walk to the calle Crosera/calle dei Botteghe (the street changed names just as it intersects with calle dei Orbi) where there are all kinds of shops: groceries, produce, hardware, several interesting antique shops, a couple of restaurants.
A short walk along calle dei Botteghe takes you to campo San Stefano, a particularly lovely campo. Campo San Stefano has one of the most beautiful churches in Venice, coffee shops, an excellent gelateria (Paolin's) and several more restaurants. From campo San Stefano it is an easy walk across the Accademia bridge to the Dorsoduro district, or, in the other direction, to San Marco or the Rialto.
Our apartment had been recently renovated, by a man who obviously had excellent taste. (See the website for information on him.) The furnishings were plain, but well selected (except for one rather uncomfortable rocking chair.) There was a telephone. There was a very good television set, but all the channels were Italian -- which we did not mind, but if you need CNN or Sky or something in English, better check ahead.
We never met the owner. We were greeted at the San Samuele vaporetto stop by the housekeeper, Silvia, whom we had called from the airport. She guided us to the flat (which we probably would not have found on our own.) Silvia was very nice. (Not a lot of English.) She was available if we had needed anything during our stay, but as it turned out we never needed to call her.
The kitchen is very basic -- just a corner kitchenette, with a stove-top, small refrigerator, sink; no oven. We found it perfectly adequate for our needs.
The bathroom is very small, and only has a shower. There is a clothes washer (no dryer) wedged into the bathroom, which makes in even smaller. However, like the kitchenette, it was perfectly adequate for us.
There were only two of us. The apartment could possibly be rented by three people, as there is a convertible couch in an alcove off the sitting ares. (There's a sliding door which can be pulled shut to screen off the alcove.) But I think it would be pretty crowded for three people.
We paid $950 a week for this rental. I notice from the website it has gone up to $1050 a week. I still think that is a pretty good price considering what I know of costs of hotel rooms in Venice.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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