Thursday, April 10, 2008

Review: Agriturismo da Merlo

Anchoring a dusty lane in the comune of Trivignano, Agriturismo da Merlo is a well-kept, comfortable and affordable bed-and-breakfast. This alternative to the high-priced accommodations within the weathered walls of ancient Venice is a short 7.5 miles from the train station in Venice-Mestre and is fairly accessible by bus.

The tranquil Venetian countryside offers a quiet place to relax away from the congested tourist-ridden core of Venice. This makes places like da Merlo ideal for couples or families that are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of tourism and instead experience Venetian country living.

Though some agriturismi offer the opportunity to help out on the farm as part of the experience, da Merlo does not. This renovated farmhouse offers all the comforts of modern living surrounded by the charm and simplicity of rural country life.

Marco Maguolo and his wife Martina offer four second-floor non-smoking rooms with all the modern conveniences and a comfortable king-size bed. Each room includes a private bath with shower and hair dryer, stocked mini refrigerator, independent heating and air conditioning, cable television, telephone, safe and wi-fi Internet access. The entry door from the outside to the main hallway where the rooms are located employs a modern security system which requires card-key access. When leaving the property it is requested that the room keys are left with the host so that the card key doesn't get lost.

The nightly rate varies by season but typically runs around €75 for two adults. Each child over age two or additional adult is €15 per person, per night with a maximum of two additional beds per room. This needs to be arranged in advance. Children under age two are free.

Martina is the only English speaker in the house. She is quite fluent but, as usual, English slang should be avoided to alleviate miscommunication.

A bus stop 400 meters from da Merlo isn't a regularly scheduled stop. Martina or Marco will drive guests to the bus stop roughly one mile away where the #20 ACTV bus stops about every 20 minutes. On the plus side, there is only one bus running from Trivignano to the train station and vice-versa making it easy to remember the bus number. On the down side, the last run of the bus from the train station is at 7:50 p.m. This means no late nights in Venice when relying on bus transportation.

Continental breakfast is included in the cost of the room. It is simple, light and enjoyable meal consisting of marmalade-filled croissant, juice, cappuccino, toast, jelly, cheese and fruit. Lunch and dinner, which are made from ingredients grown on the farm, are available but not included in the cost of the room and must be booked in advance.

Bicycles are available for rent at da Merlo. Other recreational activities, including swimming, tennis and golf are nearby, but not on the property itself.

Agriturismo da Merlo is a comfortable home-away-from-home with all the charm of old-world Italian country living and all the modern conveniences for the traveler who requires them.