Q. My brother recently celebrated his 60th birthday by renting a holiday home on the Danish coast, to which he invited our extended family (15 people in all). We had such a good time that my twin sister and I, who will turn 50 this year, would like to do something similar in August. We would like to invite the family to a property on the Venice Lido, where we spent holidays as children, but there do not appear to be properties large enough to accommodate us all (and it appears that properties in Venice itself are even smaller than those on the Lido). We'd be prepared to broaden our search to encompass the Veneto area – in this case, we would be looking to rent a villa with a swimming pool and, ideally, a tennis court within a reasonable distance of Venice. Most of us would drive down to Italy, so proximity to public-transport services is not a major issue. S King, via email
A. Demand for holiday accommodation in Venice outstrips supply to such a degree that the city is one of the most expensive to visit in Italy. The 17km sandbar that makes up the Lido, 10 minutes by boat from the island of Venice, is inevitably where mainlanders flock to during the summer months, followed by international film stars soon after for September's film festival. Much of the Lido's sandy Adriatic coastline is off-limits to anyone except guests of its five-star hotels, leaving rental accommodation at a premium; and since what is available tends to be in older buildings, there are few villas or apartments that are suitable for such a large party. Therefore, your options are to split the accommodation, or, as you suggest, look further afield for a larger property.
Options on the Lido itself are limited. One notable exception is Villa Gabriella (00 39 041 731 426; www.villagabriella.net), a 1920s villa in the middle of the Lido that has been divided into four smaller-scale units, sleeping between two and seven guests. The decor is traditionally Italian, with parquet floors and simple furnishings. Rental ranges from €950 (£731) to €1,540 (£1,185) per week, including breakfast, during peak summer months. The beaches are a short walk from the villa.
For something ritzier, you could cast your eyes backwards to the island of Giudecca, a curl of linked islets just off Dorsoduro on the island proper. What was once an industrial suburb and a site of dereliction is one of few places in Venice that you'll see contemporary architecture. Here, Venetian Apartments (020-8878 1130; www.venice-rentals.com) offers a series of striking waterfront rentals called Giudecca Mare. This cluster of four luxurious apartments sleeps from two to four, and could be rented together to keep you all close by. Style like this doesn't come cheap, with prices starting at €1,395 (£1,073) per week for apartments sleeping four, and €1,650 (£1,269) for smaller but more extravagant apartments.
Venetian Apartments also has more affordable properties on its books. There are four apartments each sleeping four in the Arsenale area of Castello on the main island, from €1,250 (£962) per week. Castello is at the quieter far end of the island, but still within walking distance of the sights, and the apartments are within walking distance of one another.
Just north is the Palazzo Santa Giustina, a beautiful Gothic palazzo divided into luxurious apartments with a shared courtyard and garden. Size ranges from two to six guests, with the possibility of renting adjacent apartments. Prices range from €235 (£181) to €375 (£289) per night, including breakfast and maid service. If you decide to base yourselves on the main island, the Lido can be easily accessed by vaporetti (water taxis) from stops around the island, including San Marco.
Extending your search radius out into the Veneto, the further away from Venice you look, the more likely you are to find a country house that can accommodate you all. An interesting option is Agriturismo Santa Barbara (00 39 041 428 929; www.agriturismovenezia.it), a working crop farm 16km from Venice in the town of Gambarare. Venice is easily accessed by car or train, and it's possible to take a river cruise to the beaches of the Lido, which departs 6km from the farm. The property is also well-located for day trips into the Euganean hills and their spa towns, or to Treviso or Lake Garda.
The 19th-century farmhouse has been subdivided into six apartments, one of which the owner occupies; the remaining five can be rented either individually, or in your case, as a group. It is surrounded by gardens, with a shared swimming pool; guests also have access to the local tennis club (1.5km away), with indoor and outdoor courts. There isn't one kitchen/dining room large enough to accommodate all of you, but if the weather is good, there's plenty of space for alfresco dining. The price for the whole property for 23-30 August is €3,370 (£2,592).
For more ideas on accommodation and attractions in Venice and the Veneto region, contact the Italian State Tourist Board (020-7408 1254; www.italiantouristboard.co.uk) and the Veneto Tourist Board (www.veneto.to).
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