The term 'palazzo' doesn't quite mean a Palace - in this case we're talking about a venerable two-story block with four rooms on the upper floor, two of which can be rented. This is in a not-quite-so touristy corner of Venice, and is accessible by walking from the Rialto Bridge or (better) by getting off the ferry at San Toma, walking couple of hundred yards and dodging through an archway to find the right courtyard. Get a blow-up map off Google or Mapquest before you go!
The building belongs to the Schiavoni family, who also own a property, the Villa Angelina, in Treviso on the mainland. Mum (Gina) and son (Andrea) share out the management of both. That's Andrea Schiavoni the plumber, not the painter by the way ...)
I've been here twice, once in high Summer and recently in the Autumn. Summer temperatures that year were in the mid-forties so no amount of flapping was going to keep us cool. But by a combination of using the (supplied) fans and by drinking cool drinks we found sleep not so hard to come by. Venice has a reputation for smelly drains and dirty canals when it's hot. Not so here (and in fact not so elsewhere either - they've done a lot of work on such matters over the last 20 years).
Having been to Venice a few times, I didn't find it difficult to navigate from San Toma to the address - but anyone who hasn't been to Venice before might find it a bit of a problem. I don't know if this deal still stands, but it's best to get Andrea's mobile number and warn him when you're on the way. He even offered to meet us at the Railway Station. That way someone will be at the house when you get there. Mama speaks almost no English, and Andrea's English is better than my Italian, but even if you only see mum I'm sure you'll have little problem in communicating: she's delightful.
Mama will check you're settled in, will hand over a key, and then they'll leave you to it. There's a small kitchen and a fridge, so you can have breakfast, and hot drinks as you wish - and you can buy snacks if you wish, but that would miss the point of a trip to Venice - the chance to eat in cafes or restaurants. Mum will pop in from time to time to check all's well.
This is not 5* luxury and I give it a good rating because it's authentic, they're friendly, and the price is so reasonable.
From there the back alleys will take you to local churches with astounding paintings; you can cross the canal and head for St Mark's Square, which obviously you must do. I recommend you walk the city; and you hop on and off the ferries and see lots of Venice which is not generally packed with Tourists. For example, near the Train Station you have the Canale de Cannareggio, half way up which is the Ristorante Tre Archi, and you'll get an excellent lunch there. I know it's the deal because all the local boatmen use it for coffees and meals.
Please bear in mind that the area (San Polo) is generally quiet; so people returning home late at night might well seem noisy. Live with it: Italians don't go to bed early.
While we're at it, transport: The water taxis (Motoscafi) are expensive and the Gondolas even more so, but you may find a Gondola parked right below your room; I think the owner loves nearby. Try negotiating for a cheaper option or split the cost with others. The best way is to use the ferries (Vaporetti) which will take you all round Venice and the Lagoon; and there are a few locations where a gondola simply plies across the canal for a Euro or three: a useful shortcut.
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