A clean, well-lighted loft

Residenza Art Deco

Residenza Art Deco

Venice, Italy 21 September 2008 We have been traveling to Venice now for more than 30 years and have stayed in any variety of places, from grand 5-star hotels to no-star dives that frankly we’d rather forget, and from simple hostels and B & Bs to luxurious and historic apartments in Venetian palaces. Recently we rented a wonderful, simple apartment in Dorsodoro with a roof terrace that afforded glimpses of the Grand Canal.

Just last weekend we found ourselves in Venice again and had the chance to stay in the Residenza Art Deco. It is worth recommending, as the place is not only lovely but also (very rare in Venice) available at a reasonable price: and we know from experience that such places are not at all easy to find in Venice. We were working and it suited us perfectly, with its central location just off San Stefano piazza (the big square you come to after crossing the Accademia Bridge from Dorsodoro), no more than five minutes walk to San Marco and about ten to Rialto. However it would also be a great place to stay for a few days or longer for you can really feel like you are living like a Venetian here. Our loft accommodation was airy, spacious, light and exceedingly clean, with a sleeping area cantilevered into the room, and a comfortable living area beneath. There is even a tiny kitchenette hidden in a cupboard, should you feel like knocking up a simple, quick meal. And it offers all mod cons, including free WiFi internet, air-conditioning and satellite tv.

The Residenza Art Deco is part of a very small and select group of hotels run by a yound and friendly company that seeks to promote intelligent tourism. The Locanda Art Deco, just around the corner on Calle delle Botteghe, is a comfortable 3-star with rooms furnished with original pieces in the art deco style. Hotel Albergo San Samuele is a more basic 1-star hotel that offers comfortable, clean accommodation in a good location, just by Palazzo Grassi. Hotel Locanda Salieri is another 1-star, near Piazzale Roma; its location makes it an ideal bolt-hole for those arriving in Venice by bus from the airport, or by car or train. You can quickly ditch your bags and be off around town in a flash.


What most of us who visit Venice want more than anything is the chance to experience the city beyond the main tourist track, to get a feel, actually, of living here like the locals. If you are a resident in any of the above hotels, this simpatico group offers a range of excursions and activities that give a real insight into life in Venice and on the lagoon. These range from picnics on an island in the lagoon to special wine tastings or a private party in a Venetian palace. Check out Incantesimo Veneziano to see what is currently on offer.

Best of all is the exclusive opportunity to experience a gondola ride with Venice’s only female gondoliera, Alex Hai. Alex's story is an amazing one, how she fell in love with both Venice and the gondola, and trained for many years to learn this difficult skill, which requires not only learning how to propel and manoeuvre a nearly 11 metre long boat with a single oar, but also how to negotiate around the crowded and narrow canals of this watery city. An equal challenge for Alex was to learn how as to negotiate the arcane, deep-seated and equally confused and muddy prejudices and protected interests that she found here. The profession of gondoliere has been an exclusively male preserve for centuries, so you can imagine that it has not been easy at all for Alex, not only a woman, but a foreigner, to achieve her dream. That she has managed to do so is evidence not only of her skill but also her immense courage and determination. Three times the examiners failed her, though clearly, on a gondola excursion with Alex, it is evident, as she moves her craft with balletic precision and balance, that she is as adroit, as strong, and as skilful as any male gondoliere.


If you are staying in one of the above hotels or residences, do seek out Alex. She will take you on a unique and special tour of the canals of Venice that you will never forget!

Alex Hai, gondoliera

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