Friday, July 15, 2011

Venezia - The Floating City

When we began planning our Italy Trip, Venice was not on the list of cities to visit. This may be surprising to some, as when many people picture Italy, Venice -- with it's famous canals and gondolas --is one of the first images that comes to mind.

Well, our reasons for not listing the city once described as the "worlds most beautiful city built by man" as a top city to visit mostly revolved around two reasons: 1 - Venice is a tourist magnet, which is NOT something that Mark and I enjoy. The crowds, the constant awareness that you're likely to be ripped off by vendors/hotel owners/restaurants/taxi drivers, etc and the need to ALWAYS watch your bag and your pockets sends the anxiety level of two worry-warts like us through the roof and 2 - It's expensive. In a city that boasts around 50,000 tourists per day, you can bet you're gonna pay a pretty penny for everything from accommodations to a cappuccino. Plus, Mark had been to Venice before and from what he could recall, he didn't remember it being one of his favorite places (Mark went on a trip to Italy through Birmingham Southern [his college] in 2004). But in the end, we decided to add Venice to our list of destinations - what, with it sinking and all we figured we need to see it while it's still around!

So, we began looking at hotels.....Mark and I pretty much live and die (as far as trip planning goes) by TripAdvisor reviews. We planned our honeymoon hotel (Four Seasons Maui at Wailea), our Mexico hotel (Valentin Imperial Maya) and even small little weekend trip hotels based off of the brutally honest reviews we've found on TripAdvisor....and they've all been great. We've learned to take some reviews in stride, to check to see where the reviewer is from (some people have higher expectations than others), and to email reviewers if you have a question that maybe they didn't answer. We've also learned to check the forums (their search feature is great) for additional information that may not be in the reviews. I also love looking at the candid pictures on really gives you a feel for the hotel moreso than the posed, stylized pictures you'll find on the hotel's website.

We narrowed our search down to two hotels (well, actually B&B's in this case b/c they were a better value [and seemed to be overall cleaner] in Venice). The first option was Plazzo Schaivoni.
...with a wonderful location, just a 5 minute walk from St. Mark's Square. And it has BEAUTIFUL canal views from rooms with balconies:
real picture from a TripAdvisor reviewer

Although, the rooms left a lot to be desired in the decor department:

And our 2nd option was Casa Santa Maria Formosa 

It also has BEAUTIFUL canal views from the room, although their rooms do not have balconies:
...and a very nice location as well - about equal distance to the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark's Square...both a 10 minute walk. Plus with a fairly recent renovation, their room decor was quite nice:

Our hotel requirements included: good location, nice view of canal, good TripAdvisor reviews, $250/night or under, a pleasing aesthetic and, of course, availability for our dates. (Tip - it's good to figure out what your requirements are BEFORE you start looking at'll help you narrow the field)  Sooooooooo.....We ended up choosing.....

Casa Santa Maria Formosa!!! (it's the yellow building with green shutters on the right)

....stay tuned for more accommodation choices for our other Italian destinations....not all choices were this easy or this clear. Trust me. 

The Indecisive Wife


Rachel said...

I am so jealous of this trip. SO JEALOUS! AAAAAAHHHHHHH! :)

Liz said...

Rachel!!!! Two things: 1 - I miss you!!! I'm so glad you're blogging least now I can read about what's going on in your life! and 2 - shut up. you live at the beach. I'm jealous of YOU!!