Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 4895: Vacation Rental Apartments, Second Floor Apartment
apartments in Dorsoduro, Venice
Oct 02-Oct 09/2010, 1 week
During the first week of October 2010, we (husband and I) stayed in the Second Floor apartment of a three apartment building (old renovated family home) along Calle Lunga San Barnaba in the Dorsoduro neighborhood of Venice. Our travel mates; husband’s mother, aunt and sister stayed in the Garden apartment (street level) in the same building.
The apartments were along the narrow calle very close to Campo San Barnaba (piazza) where there are cafes and shops. It is also located close (short walk) to Campo Santa Margherita - a larger square with many restaurants, shops and is a little less-touristed than San Marco where you can see real Venetians living their lives.
The second floor apartment consisted of a bedroom, a bath, living/dining room, kitchen and terrace/balcony-outside space. It had a spiraling staircase up to the apartment (with a very tricky apartment lock) plus another steep staircase to the bedroom. For this reason, our elderly travel mates stayed in the Garden apartment. Honestly, it was a little awkward and annoying to go up the spiral stairs to the bedroom. It took some thought as to what I needed to get from the bedroom so I could make fewer trips and I’m very fit physically - it was just inconvenient. Thank goodness neither one of us needed to get up in the middle of the night to make our way down to the bathroom!
Our apartment was clean enough. The furnishings were fine, kitchen suitable for our needs-making coffee in the morning - no kettle though. We don’t generally cook on vacation, especially in Italy where there’s so much fabulous food at the market, delis, trattorias, cafes and restaurants. I imagine the kitchen space would be adequate for basic cooking.
The apartment building is also within quick walking distance of the Billa market on the Zattere which had everything we’d need for snacks and cold meals; bread, crackers, meat, cheese, fruit, juice, wine, wine and more wine. Additionally, there are several wine shops (even one farther along Calle Lunga San Barnaba, I believe) where you can taste house wines of your choice then purchase a large water bottle full for just a few euros. Now, these aren’t great wines, they’re a little fizzy-bubbly-like but good enough for sipping with lunch. Our travel mates LOVED this wine and always had a bottle of white or red on hand.
While we found our second floor apartment adequate, the ladies in the Garden Apartment did not, although their introduction to it might have colored their perception somewhat. Upon arrival for our stay in Venice, we discovered a broken-off key in the lock of the Garden apartment door. The people staying in the First Floor apartment mistakenly believed the Garden apartment to be their own (Italian first floor would be our second floor) so tried their key in the lock repeatedly until it broke off. We had tweezers with us so we fished the broken key out of the lock.
Unfortunately, upon entering, the apartment was left a mess by the previous residents and because of the broken lock, the poor cleaning girl couldn’t get into the room to clean before we arrived; she was cleaning upstairs at the time we got there. Anyway, the apartment was a mess and quite smelly, so it needed airing and cleaning and we cleared out quickly to allow the flustered girl to complete the work. Not a great first impression and I’m afraid it stayed with the ladies. They had just spent a week in a spacious, clean and beautiful Padua apartment so this was a bit of a step down for them.
The Garden Apartment was a bit cramped, two single beds in the bedroom, bathroom, small kitchen/living space with a sofa type bed. Unfortunately, there was no TV, kettle or toaster either; things we wouldn’t miss but they obviously did and complained to Guiseppe (building manager?) when he came over that night.
He was charming and good-natured and secured a kettle and toaster from his own home and brought the TV from the First Floor apartment, reminding them ‘You’re in Venice, what do you want to watch TV for?!’ Guiseppe was patient and really helped to smooth things over with the disgruntled ladies. It also helped that he brought his adorable dogs with him!
Anyway, the ladies are used to the comforts of home (and North American hotels) so found the Garden Apartment to be a little too rustic. Additionally, because it is at ground or garden level and had seen some aqua-alte flooding, it retained a musty, damp smell which was relieved considerably by the use of the dehumidifier which only occurred to them to use close to the end of their visit. The ladies also had issue with the mosquitoes(so did we) and having to use mosquito netting around our beds at night. It is annoying and our explanation that windows don’t often have screens in Italy did little to relieve their complaining.
Both apartments had outdoor spaces which we used quite a bit. The second floor space was a nice little patio/balcony with views of rooftops, homes, the church and the treed garden courtyard below (garden apartment's outdoor space). It was great for watching the various birds and pigeons that flitted among the trees.
There was a table with chairs and clotheslines, which we had to use daily to dry the towels that we needed to mop up the wet floor in the bathroom from the shower spray. Both apartments had the typical Italian shower where water could not be contained properly (not fully-enclosed) and sprays all over the floor. The ladies had difficulty getting their towels and laundry to dry on the clotheslines in the courtyard probably due to too much shade from the various trees. The courtyard garden is large with a big table and chairs on the patio under the canopy of trees.
To secure the apartments (which I found here on this website) I contacted Annamaria(owner) by email(she lives in San Francisco) - we booked early - March, I think for our October accommodations. Annamaria courteously answered our questions and acknowledged receipt of our deposit check and explained she would need the rest just before our visit sometime in September. September came and we hadn’t heard from Annamaria so I sent her an email asking to finalize our arrangements but my email came back to me as undeliverable. I started panicking and sent another which came back to me as well before I sent one to VRBO Italy explaining I needed to get in touch with her a.s.a.p. They contacted her and she emailed me back promptly, apologizing and explaining she’d been terribly busy so we sent her the remaining money owed. Then she told us Guiseppe wouldn’t be available to greet us upon our arrival in Venice and she needed to mail out the keys to us. I explained we were leaving Sept 25 for a week in Padua before Venice and needed them before the flight. The keys arrived the day before our flight. We could also have made other arrangements to pick up the keys at P. Roma when we arrived in Venice. While these details did get resolved, it was an extra stress I didn’t need at the time I was dealing with a million other trip details.
While this review might seem just a list of complaints, I think I’ve offered up some viewpoints and concerns which might help fellow slow travelers in the search for a suitable Venice apartment. My husband and I have never required more than basic accommodations on our travels (7th trip to Italy) and the Second Floor apartment met that but our travel mates clearly expected more from their stay. I should say that Venice did not disappoint whatsoever and the apartment building location was near perfect.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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