From the AirBnB site, it looked amazing! This large Airbnb Venice flat along the canals with a view of the gondolas outside the window. It seemed too good to be true. I looked at the calendar of availability and was immediately crestfallen as it was rented out for the whole summer save two nights during my stay. The minimum stay was three nights but I figured it doesn’t hurt to ask so I sent the owner, Maurizio, a friendly note.
He quickly replied that I could rent the Fenice apartment for two nights and I was thrilled. It was good that Maurizio manages a few properties and could move me elsewhere for another night. I was staying in Venice for five nights but the city was sold out due to Vogalonga rowing event and the Biennale (which started early this year due to Expo Milan) so I had to move from the Guesthouse to the Fenice apartment and then to the San Marco apartment. Not ideal but I made it work.
Maurizio sent me multiple emails to prepare for my visit (Directions, Event Schedule, Public Transit prices/options, Venice Rental Tips, the Food Shopping Service and Lost Luggage Warning). These were a nice touch for a new visitor to the city as well as new to AirBnb. As I was staying at another property in the city prior to arrival, we arranged for Francesca (his wife) to meet me in the square near the Accademia bridge and walk me to the flat.
The Meet & Greet Arrival
Francesca is a lovely woman who is a great ambassador for your stay. As we walked she pointed out different points of interest as well as the leather store we would turn right (always good to take photos of these points of reference to find your way back) toward the Fenice theatre. There was a small bridge to navigate and a few more turns before arriving in the courtyard. The flat was the door on the right ahead (again take a photo of the door so you know where you are staying). During my stay I would hear keys in the door trying to get in that freaked me out a bit, however, when I opened the door, the ladies apologized as they forgot where they were staying. It was a good laugh as the sharing economy grows.
The Fenice apartment is located near the Fenice Opera House, hence the name. It is a centrally located apartment overlooking the canal and a ten minute walk to the Rialto bridge or to San Marco, it really doesn’t get better than that in my opinion.
Francesca opened the door and WOW! I was speechless as the flat was even more fantastic in person. When you enter on the left is a coat rack and bench, ahead on the right is the kitchen table and kitchen area.
Francesca would go through all the bells and whistles of the kitchen – opening doors, cabinets and the refrigerator (complimentary still water) before proceeding with the rest of the apartment.The kitchen is stocked with appliances, pots/pans and cooking accessories. There is also a washing machine with easy to use instructions (no dryer because this is Italy and because they are on the canal there is a drying rack in the bathroom to use). The kitchen table seats four comfortably and has the house manual on it. There are also printed reminders throughout the kitchen.
The tiled bathroom is large and reminiscent of a boutique hotel. The walk in rain shower was a good size. Provided was a bath towel, hand towel (I do wish there was an extra towel or two – so American of me) and a shower gel. The hair dryer was in a box on the shower cabinet. At the end of the counter was a basket with two additional rolls of toilet paper). I did find the lighting a bit dark to do makeup.
Bedroom/Living Room Area
After the bathroom, we walked the hall (past the candy jar) to the open floor plan of living room/desk/bedroom. There is a couch on the right which looks out into the canal (I would spend most of my time here relaxing to the gondolas going by and the occasional musician). The desk was a bit too small for me to work on so I used the large table flanked by two comfortable leather chairs. Sitting on the floor, the table was perfect height to type on my laptop.
The décor was a mix of IKEA (I have that table too!), the Italian version of Pier One and a few bespoke items mixing together quite well to create an elegant, luxury apartment. There is a lot of storage space – an armoire next to the bed, another smaller one in the hallway next to the bathroom (which has a safe). Important feature is the air conditioning and heating unit about the armoire which quickly cools or heats the room.
Francesca opened the windows to the canal and I had my first glimpse of the gondolas going by (I would be entranced by this spectacle) as well as the warning about mosquitoes (I hate mosquitoes but luckily in May they weren’t an issue). With a few more explanations of how this, that and the other worked she asked if any questions.
One item to note that while the black out curtains are wonderful, you are living on a working canal so boats may make noise early (i.e. – construction workers at 6:30 a.m. one day) so if that bothers you bring ear plugs but really it shouldn’t as you are probably getting up and out to explore early each day anyway.
Where’s the Wifi?
Ah yes, the wifi, there is a device on the kitchen table with the password on the back. This is a portable wifi station you can take with you to the restaurant, square, etc. (these are really nice as I’ve seen a few people with these). The downside is that in the flat which is stone walls thick, the signal isn’t great. I was able to do most social media checks without issue but couldn’t get a FaceTime call through to my nieces to show them the canals outside.
Finding the Supermarket in Venice
As it was a Sunday, Francesca asked if I wanted her to show me how to find the supermarket. It was open until 1 pm. I took her up on the offer, grabbed my reusable bag and we were off zig zagging through the streets (I was taking photos as my breadcrumbs back to the flat). Quickly at the market, I said good-bye and went inside to shop for important supplies (i.e. – water, chocolate, fruit). I found my way back to the flat easily and quickly got to know the area.
Where to Eat Near Fenice Opera
Francesca provides a few cards of recommended restaurants in the area. I found a great bakery close by on the way to Rialto bridge as well as a wonderful wine bar/restaurant (Vino Vino Osteria) on the way to San Marco – each less than five minutes walk.
Overall – Airbnb Venice Flat
The flat was so nice it was hard to leave and explore the city. I spent most of my time reading while watching (and listening) to the gondolas, taking a nap after my rowing lesson and then catching up on work. I really enjoyed and used the flat as much as I could as this was not just a place to sleep. I pretended it really was my nice apartment in the city.
For my first AirBnb stay, I was spoiled (if only all hosts could manage their properties this way). Maurizio was super responsive to queries, Francesca was a joy and the flat was really amazing. This is a family business and their dedication shows in the details (emails, candy jar, shopping service, in person meet & greet, guest book and stay manual). I’d definitely stay at one of their properties for future visits to Venice.
The rate for my stay in May was $354 for two nights paid via Airbnb (the flat was $158 per night and the Airbnb fee was $38). Note that Venice has a new mandatory city tax that is payable in cash at check-in of €2 per person per day for your stay.
Use my personal code for a discount on your first Airbnb stay
UPDATE 10/16: This flat is no longer in Maurizio & Francesca’s Venice Portfolio, for other properties they manage, including larger flats for families, check out Maurizio’s Superhost profile