Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 3848: Palazzetto da Schio, Apartment
apartments in Dorsoduro, Venice
October 2008, one week
Palazzetto da Schio has a prime location in Dorsoduro, on a serene and picturesque canal that's just a short walk to the Salute vaporetto stop. The apartment offers easy access to nice shops, restaurants, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, and the Accademia. The Zattere promenade along the water facing Giudecca is also quite close. We enjoyed staying in this elegant residential area very much.
The Palazzetto's owner, Contessa Anna da Schio, provided us with a handy map indicating our neighborhood dining options and other services. We were able to walk to the Billa supermarket on the Zattere for groceries in about 15 minutes. The popular Nico gelateria and other waterside eateries are all close by. The sestiere's main square, Campo Santa Margherita, is a bit further away, where there is a morning market and lots of restaurants. The Contessa did lament the loss of a few local merchants as the area becomes more gentrified and tourist-oriented. However, we were easily able to find everything we needed for the week.
The Palazzetto dates from the 16th century and was Contessa da Schio's childhood home. The gracious, antique-filled premises still contain many of her family's belongings; staying here is akin to staying in an intimate, private manor house. We felt very comfortable -- though her apartment was above ours (on the piano nobile) and she was home most of the time, we barely encountered her during our week-long stay.
Our apartment, No. 5 (1bed/1bath), faced the back garden and had a spacious living/dining area, a good-size bedroom, an eat-in kitchen, and a bath with tub and shower. Because the apartment faces the rear it was very tranquil.
The garden is accessed through a ground-floor chamber and is available for use by all five apartments. It has a small table and chairs and a little fish pond. During our stay it was lush with soothing greenery that we could see through all six windows. We were welcomed to use it at our leisure. A couple of days the metal garden furniture and back gate were being repainted, but since it was mid-October these were clearly seasonal tasks that needed to be completed before winter.
The apartment was spotless. (Indeed, a very sweet cleaning lady came in at midweek to tidy up -- she even put our smelly laundry through the washing machine!) The Contessa asks renters to purchase particular cleaning products if they want specific tasks done during their stay, though for one week we didn't see the need for any extra cleaning.
Since much of the furniture is antique and/or family heirlooms, we were asked to cover the large dining table with a provided cloth, and the small love seat and side chairs were protected with slipcovers. However, we felt very comfortable and had no problem complying with the Contessa's wishes. We felt it a privilege to be entrusted with the care of her lovely things.
However, these apartments are clearly not for everybody, which is why she asks a bit about potential renters. These lodgings would not be suitable, for example, for rowdy "party animals" or a family with rambunctious toddlers.
Ah, Italian mattresses... why can't they all be this comfortable? The big, firm bed was super comfy and I loved the cozy down comforter. We aren't fond of hard pillows and were thus happy to find two flatter, softer ones in the closet. The bedroom had a whole wall of closets for our stuff, and was dark and quiet.
The bathroom has an old claw-foot tub with an adjustable hand-held shower nozzle (like most European baths) and shower curtain. The Contessa showed us how to attach the curtain to the sides of the wall with Velcro to keep water from splashing on the floor. We had to struggle a bit with the shower curtain billowing inward when the water was running, an effect my husband said was like "taking a shower while an octopus tries to make love to you." But there was plenty of hot water, and the water pressure was good.
Also in the bathroom: bidet, marble-topped sink, hairdryer, light-up makeup mirror, big wall mirror with gilded frame, elegant brass wall sconces, and plenty of towel hangers. At the outset we were each given a set of towels and told that if we used loads of additional towels we should wash them for the next renters. The Contessa provided a small bar of homemade olive oil soap, a nice touch.
The kitchen was extremely functional, with a four-burner gas stove, small dishwasher, clothes washer, full-size fridge/freezer, toaster, microwave, and plenty of counter space. It was the most well-equipped kitchen we have ever had in a vacation rental. Every conceivable utensil and gadget seemed to be at hand -- two espresso makers, all kinds of serving pieces, even a salad spinner. The room was big enough for a table and so we ended up sitting there a lot instead of at the more formal dining table.
Midweek (after the cleaning lady washed our clothes) we were able to hang them on a big drying rack in the middle of the kitchen since we didn't want to chance hanging them on the clothesline outside in case of rain. This was quite handy.
The kitchen doesn't boast the sort of slick, modern Italian design that some rentals feature. It was more like using a real Venetian family's kitchen. We liked hanging out in this charming and authentic kitchen very much -- but renters who prefer a more contemporary-style kitchen may not.
Problems or Bonuses
The bonus was staying in a gorgeous, antique-filled apartment in Dorsoduro! What a splendid way to experience Venice. Every time I walked down the Fondamenta toward "home" it all seemed like a glorious dream.
The only real negative for us was the mosquitoes, which are apparently ubiquitous in Venice. Initially we had to stalk them throughout the apartment and use the citronella candles and mosquito repellent that the Contessa provided. We killed a small army of them the first few days.
But mosquitoes are likely a problem in $500-a-night hotels on the Grand Canal, too, since most places in Venice don't have window screens and mosquitoes don't discriminate. They certainly did not diminish our enjoyment of the apartment in any meaningful way.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Contessa da Schio was exceedingly helpful from the very first e-mail. She takes great pride in the property and is a joy to work with. As other reviewers have noted, her English is beyond stellar. She rents these unique apartments at a very competitive price, with very fair terms. Staying here is truly a special experience.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I would certainly stay here again! I recommend Palazzetto da Schio to anyone who would like to stay in an authentic, antique-filled Venetian home in a great location, away from the tourist crush and yet with easy access to everything that La Serenissima has to offer.
Things to do in this area
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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