Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 66: Palazzetto da Schio, Apartment
apartments in Dorsoduro, Venice
September 2000, 6 days
In September 2000 we rented an apartment in Venice for six days. We rented a 2-bedroom apartment in a private home -- the Palazzetto da Schio in Dorsoduro. I found it by surfing the web (searching for apartment rentals Venice). I did ask the owner for a reference -- and she gave me the name and e-mail of an American couple who had stayed in her home. I have stayed in vacation rentals in Italy on other trips.
This is a very appealing arrangement if you're traveling with another couple (as we were) or with a family. You have more room to spread out and feel a bit like a local and a little less like a tourist. In my opinion, Dorsoduro is the most pleasant area of Venice and a great place to stay. The apartment, which overlooked a small, quiet canal, was near the Salute vaporetto stop and very close to the Zattere (the long, broad wharf or quay that runs along the southern side of Dorsoduro, facing the Giudecca).
The apartment was very clean and pleasant: two good size bedrooms, one with queen bed and the other with twin beds. Each with full bathroom (one with tub, the other with shower). Medium/small living room with sofa, 2 chairs, desk, small dining table and 4 chairs. Well-furnished with original family pieces. Small but well-equipped kitchen with dishwasher and clothes washer. The windows have shutters which darken the rooms and contribute to a good night's sleep–if you can sleep through the 7:30 am wake up call consisting of approx. 100 peals of the church bells! Never did understand the number of rings at that hour, but I guess it's a way to tell the neighborhood that it's time to get up and start the day! Other than that, the only sound is the water lapping against the sides of the canal.
Our apartment was on the first floor–which is actually the American 2nd floor. (Europeans say ground floor for our 1st floor). In Venice, you wouldn't want to live on the ground floor anyway (too close to the water)! On the top floor (American 4th floor), there are two more apartments for rent; another 2 bedroom apartment and a 1 bedroom. The owner also rents out her own 3 bedroom unit when they go on holiday (August?). The rates were very reasonable, and rentals of two days or more are possible. The owner is Contessa Ana da Schio, who speaks perfect English and is very gracious and efficient. (Just don't call her Ana; she prefers a more formal European form of address, which reserves first names for good friends and family. The younger generation tends to be more informal. Either Contessa or Signora da Schio is fine with her.)
We ate only breakfast in the apartment, but you can, of course, cook as many meals as you like. In our case, the first couple up in the morning would go to the nearby shops to buy breakfast items as needed–such as coffee, juice, milk, cheese, butter, rolls, fruit, and perhaps some basics like napkins, laundry detergent, and, uh, toilet paper. The great thing about much of Europe is that they still appreciate and support small businesses. So you tend to buy things at a few different specialty shops rather than everything at the supermarket (although they do exist). It's fun to see how locals live and shop. I fell in love with the owner of the cheese shop who told me my Italian was very good–I'm a sucker for flattery! And sometimes we would stop in the café for a quick cappuccino ("due cappuch, per favore") before returning to the apartment with our purchases. There was also a newspaper kiosk for buying the International Herald Tribune, and one canal further was an excellent wine shop with lots of well-priced Italian wine. The owner recommended a red and white, which we were very happy with.
We loved walking on the Zattere, which was relatively uncrowded, unlike the Riva degli Schiavoni between San Marco and the Arsenale, which was mobbed. The light and the view across the water to the Guidecca were incredible. One happy trip we made daily along the Zattere was to Nico Gelateria, well known for its delicious and tempting gelato.
One of the most delightful features of the apartment was that we could rent the owner's small motorboat for around $45/day including gasoline. We had the best time toodling around the Guidecca and some other nearby islands, and then navigating the canals of the city, including the Grand Canal. What a hoot! Seeing Venice by water at your own pace and own route was delightful. I would not recommend using the boat unless one of you is fairly experienced with motorboats. Navigating some of the canals was a bit tricky at times.
We were very satisfied and would certainly stay there again without hesitation.
NOTE FROM NOVEMBER 2003: Pauline, I would like to amend or notate my original review of Palazzetto da Schio in Venice to say that the rental rates were raised substantially since our stay there, so the rates I quote are not reflective of current rates. Of course, the greatly-weakened state of the dollar makes the rental cost even higher. Although no longer a bargain, compared to a hotel it's probably still a good deal, especially for families and two couples. --Sheila
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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