Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1748: Palazzetto da Schio, Apartment
apartments in Dorsoduro, Venice
April/May 2005, One week
Our family arrived in Venice for a one week stay on April 30, 2005. This was our first visit to Venice and part of our 14-month "Grand Tour of Europe."
There are several reviews of the Palazzeto da Schio on this website, so I'll try not to be too repetitive and will focus more on information not contained in other reviews.
I had originally booked the one bedroom apartment on the mezzanine level (what Americans would call the second floor), the one with the sleeping alcove. I had made our initial reservation at least a year in advance of our visit, along with arrangements for almost 20 other rentals for our 14 month trip. The Contessa da Schio was very good to work with in our e-mail interaction, and unlike most other owners/agencies I worked with, she did not require a deposit at that time. Somehow she felt there was a problem communicating with AOL e-mail accounts, and so I communicated with her using an alternate e-mail (comcast) that I had at that time. When we left the USA on our long trip, I cut off my comcast service, totally forgetting that was my link to the Contessa. I also failed to remember that in our last e-mail communication I said I would be in touch with her in a few months to confirm arrangements. I should mention in my defense that this is the ONLY screw-up I had related to any of our bookings!
After the first of the year, I e-mailed the Contessa from France, using my husband's yahoo account, to confirm our arrangements. I got a very polite and apologetic response from the Contessa, saying that she had tried several times to e-mail me and her messages were returned. (She even sent me copies of her messages.) She had written me to confirm our booking and make arrangements for a deposit. When she didn't hear from me, she rented the apartment to someone else. Understandable. She did, however, offer me the two-bedroom apartment on the mezzanine level, which she hadn't intended to rent during this time due to potential construction on the canal outside. She said that she would rent it to us for the same price as the one bedroom, as long as we understood there may be construction. I accepted this offer with relief. We were able to handle a deposit by sending her a check from our American bank, in dollars. Easy! (At the end of our stay, the deposit was returned.) This story tells something about the graciousness and professionalism of the Contessa. Also, let this be a warning to others to BE SURE their booking is confirmed, especially when there is not a deposit or some type of form filled out. The problem in this case was mine... not the Contessa. We were fortunate there was a good solution.
The Contessa gave us a very detailed tour of the apartment. This part of the house was actually the area where she and her sisters lived with their English governess when she was growing up. Our daughter slept in the room with the two twin beds, which was the Contessa's girlhood furniture. I think we were a bit intimidated by the Contessa because of her title, some type of royalty that I didn't quite understand. She is somewhat formal, but I also found her very kind and helpful. She takes a lot of pride in her rental apartments.
The building probably wasn't as "grand" as I had expected given its status as a "palazzetto." That's not to take away from it, just a statement. I think the Contessa has to work very hard to maintain the building and deal with the practicalities of living in Venice. During the time of our stay the section of canal just out front was drained and boarded up for maintenance. We noticed that much of Venice was being repaired and worked on.
The apartment we stayed in is quite formal, mainly because the furniture is old antiques. It was comfortable, but just kind of formal. We had a chance to see several of the other apartments (the one bedroom apartment on the mezzanine level and the one bedroom apartment on the top floor looking over the garden). These would all be interesting places to stay, and I think the website accurately represents them. The kitchen in the top floor apartment is huge, especially compared to the small galley kitchen we had. The top floor apartments are actually on the 4th floor, so there is quite a hike up the stairs.
The Contessa provided a cell phone for our use during our stay, a nice touch. (We actually only used it to call her!) She also has a computer with internet access for the use of guests. The computer is located on the 4th floor, on a landing between the two apartments on the upper floors. Her son showed me how to use their system. Our daughter really liked the Contessa's little dog Webby. We did have to pay for utilities separately based on a meter reading.
We enjoyed our week at the Palazzetto da Schio. We liked the location on a quiet side canal, close to the Grand Canal and also the Zattere on the Canal della Giudecca. We caught the vaporetto at the Accademia Bridge and also at the Salute stop. (The Salute is actually a bit closer.) The day we went to Burano and Torcello, we caught the vaporetto over on the Zattere. We ended up doing a lot of walking, including all the way over to St. Mark's Square. This is do-able, but a long walk. Later we found out about the traghetto ferries-- big gondolas that cross the Grand Canal... only 50 cents. There is actually a traghetto stop just a little ways from the Palazzetto (toward the Salute church). This saved a lot of time getting over to St. Marks Square.
There is a major grocery store called Billa a ways down the Zattere. This is easy to miss because it's not well signed. Look for those hanging fuzzy things over the door, I think they were blue and yellow. The Contessa provides a wheeled grocery cart, which came in very handy for the long trek back with groceries for several days. We also picked up breakfast bread and a few other essentials in the neighborhood between the Palazzetto and the Accademia Bridge. Since we were on such a long trip, we cooked many of our meals "in" and didn't eat out as much as most visitors to Venice on a more-typical vacation. But we would recommend a nearby restaurant called the Ristorante San Trovaso. We also had a good meal at the Trattoria ai Cugnai, though I'd suggest to check the prices of any seafood before ordering!
We arrived in Venice by train from Milan, and although we could have taken a vaporetto, we decided we had too much luggage and opted to pay for a much more expensive water taxi. It was actually a magical way to arrive in the city for the very first time, traveling down the Grand Canal.
For more information about our stay at the Palazzetto da Schio and our week in Venice, see my blog at www.slowtrav.com/blog/kaydee/archives/000830.html.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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