The Venice Apartment Guide Books Won’t Tell You About.
The magnificence of Venice smacks you in the face as soon as you step out of Santa Lucia railway station.
The city’s magic lies in the fact that Venice feels like its floating, thanks to the wood pilings used to keep the infrastructure above water. These now-petrified pilings are set across 118 submerged islands, which are connected by hundreds of pedestrian bridges and boats canals, making Venice one of the best walking cities in the world.
Another thing you’ll notice upon arrival is that the auditory signatures of many cities–engines humming, music blasting, honking taxis and blaring sirens–are non-existent, since there are no cars on the island. Instead, the soundtrack is replaced by voices, water sloshing, and the gurgling roar of vaporretos–Venice’s public water-bus system.
For first time visitors to Venice, there are two certainties: First, you will get lost, many times. Second, the only thing more difficult than navigating the maze-like corridors is finding the local scene. There’s not much you can do about the first certainty, except get out there and explore. Now that we’ve been to the city a few times, we don’t get lost nearly as much as we used too, but we still have our moments.
As for the second certainty, well the best way to scale this hurdle (aside from having a friend in the city) is three-fold: a guidebook (Rick Steves’ Venice is a good one as well as these free Venice guides from GowithOh), taking a tour with Walks of Italy, and renting an apartment for your stay. In this post I’m going to be talking about the latter. However, for those of you who are interested the different tours available in the city, we’ll be publishing some stories soon about the three different tours we took with Walks of Italy in Venice.
Since our first apartment stay in Istanbul nearly three years ago, Beth and I have become evangelists for renting apartments while traveling. Not only are they a great way to step out of the insulated comforts of a hotel, staying in an apartment also give you a really good reason to splurge at the local markets. Plus, most hosts are really helpful about sharing their favorite spots and giving you insider tips.
Our GoWithOh apartment in Venice provided the perfect spot from which to explore the city. It had all the qualities that we look for in a rental–location, clean and comfortable and WiFi (though it’s an extra €3 per day)–plus it took us back into the area of the San Marco district, where we fell in love with Venice back in 2010.
The one bedroom apartment, which features a double sofa-bed in the living room/kitchen, is on the first floor (this would be the second floor in the U.S.) and has eight to 12 steps to walk up and no lift. Walking to Santa Lucia train station will take about 20 minutes; however, there is a vaporreto stop approximately 5 minutes away (see below for more details). The apartment also features two flat screen TVs, a well-equipped kitchen, a large bathroom with bathtub/shower combo and washing machine, and a whole lot of Venetian style complete with terrazo floors and exposed beams on the ceiling.
The Street and Front Door
San Marco is a small, dense district where many of Venice’s most famous sights, such as St Mark’s Square, Saint Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace and Harry’s Bar, can be found. It’s also packed with restaurants, cafes, high end boutiques and tourists.
Luckily, it was the off-season when we were in Venice, so the crowds were minimal. And despite being located off a popular square–Campo San Stefano–the narrow street feels miles away from the tourist track (in reality its only a few hundred feet). In fact, I think one of the biggest secrets about Venice is that the local spots are all around, you just have to know where to look. Right outside of the apartment, for example, were two fantastic spots–an enoteca and osteria–that filled up nightly with people in the know.
One of my favorite things about the apartment was watching the hum of the evening take hold outside of our bedroom window. Around 4 p.m. a buzz would be began as people crowded into the wine bar for aperitivos and conversation. With the windows shut, the noise was minimal, but if you like your quite then just know that the conversation from the bar goes on into the evening and is literally right below your window. I loved it, but I think it’s good to point our for others who might not like being that close to the action.
The apartment really set the tone for our four nights in Venice, and it’s an easy place to recommend. The hosts were fantastic and sat down with us for a few minutes after we arrived to point out some of their favorite places around the city for dining and gelato. In fact, because of them we finally found good pizza in Venice, which–trust me–is harder than you think. So, if you are coming to Venice for a few days and you want something a little more authentic than a hotel room, then definitely check out this apartment.
This apartment puts in you into the local mix, while also being close to all of the major spots. There is a small market right around the corner that’s perfect for stocking up on the essentials–cheese, fruit, wine, pesto, water and bread as well as a number of cafes in the square. Another perk to the flat’s location is that it’s also close to one of Venice’s more local district’s Dorsoduro, which is a perfect place to wander if you want to escape the bustle of San Marco. To reach the apartment using the vaporetto, take Line 1 to the S. Angelo stop
This one bedroom is perfect for couples looking for a romantic getaway, small families or a few friends. The apartment would be perfect for a weekend stay or extended getaway. We stayed in the apartment over a weekend in mid-May and the cost for three people was $253/night. Rates do very depending on the season and you can check the listing here: Charming apartment with classic style in the centre.
This flat, like others we’ve stayed in before in Venice, is pure Venetian in its colors and antique styling. In addition to the large bedroom and bathroom, the apartment also has a living room/kitchen, which is outfitted with a wooden dining table, an LCD television, a double sofa-bed and a fully equipped kitchen with a refrigerator, microwave and oven.
For a quick inside look at what makes this place so awesome, check out our video, 3 Reasons To Love This GowithOh Venice Apartment
Beth’s cousin Billy joined us on our mini-spring tour and Venice was our final stop. We were out night and day wondering through the city, taking tours and just living it up. So I thought I’d include a few photos and vines from the trip to give you a taste of our time in Venice.
For more stories about the other GowithOh Apartments we stayed in during our mini-Italy tour, check out the links below:
What’s your travel style: Apartment, Hotel, Hostel or Campground? Let us know in the comments below!