Visitors to Venice can find their wallets emptying rather rapidly - so here are a few suggestions for places to stay and eat without breaking the bank
This island city can be difficult to navigate, even for the experienced traveller, and often seems to be geared almost entirely towards the premium end of the tourist market. But places that offer good food and service at reasonable prices can be found - it just needs a little research. Having done that for you already, here are my tips and suggestions.
There are several good reasons to avoid finding yourself without a plan for eating in the evening: restaurants in Venice often close earlier than those in other continental cities; decent eating places are understandably more popular with people in the know, so tables soon fill up; and the nature of the city means it takes quite a while to get around.
Weather permitting, walking around the maze of little streets costs nothing and can take up many happy hours of exploration. You can enjoy the journey even more, knowing that there will be an enjoyable and affordable place to eat along the way. At most of the restaurants suggested here, you can get a three-course meal from the à la carte menu for between €15 and €20 per person, including house wine.
Starting near the San Stae vaporetto stop, the Osteria La Zucca restaurant (www.lazucca.it), at Ramo del Megio 1762 in sestiere Santa Croce, serves modern original cuisine based on traditional local ingredients. It has been favourably reviewed in UK newspapers, so booking is advisable. Prices have crept up recently but it is still good value and the food is excellent, so it is well worth a visit.
Nearby, again in Santa Croce, there is Il Refolo. It's more expensive and more contemporary in décor and cuisine than the others mentioned here, but has some interesting twists on classic Italian dishes and excellent service.
A cheaper option, albeit a good walk through a real maze of streets, is the Osteria Al Ponte La Patatina (www.lapatatina.it), at San Polo 2741, near the San Toma vaporetto stop. This is open later than is usual in Venice and gets very busy, so be prepared to wait - it is worth it. It's an atmospheric trattoria-style restaurant, with a very good choice of traditional Venetian dishes.
If you plan to visit Chiesa dell'Angelo San Raffaele, close to the the vaporetto at San Basilio (the church featured in the novel Miss Garnet’s Angel by British author Sally Vickers), then why not seek out Casa Moldova, near Corte Major in Dorsoduro? Simple premises belie excellent food and service, with some tasty Moldovan dishes in addition to the Venetian staples. It's very good value (a litre of the very pleasant red house wine costs only €6.50) and a chance to eat something quite different.
More conventionally, there is the Ae Oche pizzeria (www.aeoche.com) in Dorsoduro, on the waterfront walk between the Zattere and San Basilio vaporetto stops. It's big and busy, with an extensive choice of filling, tasty pizzas at reasonable prices.
Where to stay
While the tourist economy of the city means there are more accommodation choices than anyone can really fully investigate, there is a lot to be said for making location a priority, so that you are based on the main island within easy reach of the Grand Canal and vaporetti. There are some attractive rates to be had at the hotels on the mainland side of the lagoon but staying out here will mean a lot of time wasted travelling to and fro, so you're better off staying at a small hotel or B&B in the centre of things.
Make sure you have a map handy when you're choosing where to stay, so that you can relate the accommodation to the Grand Canal and vaporetto stops. Anywhere within 200m of the Grand Canal as the crow flies is reasonable (though given that no walk in Venice is straight, you will actually walk twice that distance!).
Ca' Del Modena is an example of the smaller-scale accommodation available. It is a three-room B&B in a first-floor apartment near the San Stae vaporetto stop, but feels more like a homestay than a typical B&B. It was the owner’s home for some time, so it means much more to her than just a business, hence the careful choice of decorations and furnishings. The rooms are large and private, with an elegant shared sitting/dining room.