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Venice, Italy apartments - Helga Gross LEFT: Helga Gross of @home/Mitwohnzentrale.

If you've ever dreamed of living in Venice--even for a short time--Helga Gross would like to tempt you with a seductive message:

"You want to stay in Venice or the Veneto region. You come as a tourist, student, or business traveler. You want to visit for anywhere from four days to a few months--or even longer. You want a room, an apartment, or a house. Come to me, and I'll help you live as the Venetians do at a price you can afford."

Helga is the owner of @Home (a.k.a. Mitwohnzentrale) in Venice, Italy. Since moving to Venice from Nürnberg, Germany in the late 1990s, Helga has built a thriving business by placing international visitors in mid-priced rooms and apartments throughout the Venice region.

All-inclusive rates

Helga explains that quoted prices include everything: accommodations, taxes, linens, final cleaning, and utilities.

She adds that her staff will meet the client at the nearest vaporetto or water taxi stop on the day of arrival, and she's happy to recommend restaurants, shops, museums, emergency physicians, etc. as part of her personalized service.

Clients are asked to deposit 30 percent of the rental fee up front by wire transfer or Western Union, since Helga must advance money to the room or apartment owner when confirming a reservation. The rest of the money (plus a security deposit) is due in cash or traveler's checks upon arrival.

Planning ahead

Helga recommends contacting her two months before your trip for the best choice of accommodations. (In a pinch, she can usually locate a suitable room or apartment on a week's notice.) Let her know any special preferences: e.g., a favorite neighborhood, a washer/dryer, air conditioning, balcony, budget limit, etc. She'll come up with one or more recommendations, which she'll communicate to you via e-mail.

  • Tip: Don't contact Helga too far in advance, since most apartment owners aren't willing to make commitments six months or a year ahead. And please don't ask for a quote unless you're serious about a rental.

For more information, including a link to the @home/Mitwohnzentrale Web site, see the next page.

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