25 Sep Oceano Mare
After some time, the delayed post on Oceano Mare in Venice as promised. I would normally write about all part of a trip in the same post, but have made this special exception because I believe this lovely place deserves to be highlighted on its own. Before I write any further, I must say that I highly recommend Oceano Mare for a relaxing trip in Venice, truly a hidden gem, read on and you will see my reasons.
One of the main reasons why this place left so much of an impression on us was the friendly and helpful host, Nicola (the gentleman in the purple shirt above). We arrived in Venice very late at night, but he made sure we went on the right Vaporetto, got down at the right stop, and came to pick us up himself. Not to mentioned he also helped carry 2 of our suitcases all the way back to Oceano Mare (they are not featherlight as you would imagine). He talked as we walked, pointing out the different landmarks (as much as they were visible at that time), trying to make it as easy as possible for us to remember the route and to highlight the shortcuts through the neighbourhood that would take us to the tourist attractions.
Oceano Mare is ideally located within Castello, which Nicola calls the “Venetian’s Venice”. Residents in Castello are mostly local, and you don’t see tourist shops, but only local groceries and markets nearby. Taking a stroll around where we stayed, we saw old ladies sitting outside in the small piazzas talking and knitting, some young student sitting on the front steps reading his books, small trattorias and cafes at the corners, flowers by the windows (and also clothes hung outside of the balconies). It was all a quiet, casual, relaxed and slow-paced air, perfect to start the morning with and wonderful to escape the crowded attractions in the afternoon. If you would like to experience Venice for what she is, Castello is probably one of the top choices. The B&B’s location is great because it is not crowded and touristy, but by no mean secluded. Minutes away from San Pietro di Castello and the Arsenale, 10 minutes on foot to San Marco, and is well connected to other parts of Venice with several Vaporetto stops nearby in different directions.
Nicola named the house after his favourite book by Alessandro Baricco, unfortunately I have not read it, but may go on to grab an English copy very soon.
Albeit having been named Oceano Mare, the house is, interestingly, the only one on that road painted in red. It offers 3 en-suite double rooms, and ours (called Nuvole di Mare) has a study with a sofa bed that functions as a second bedroom. Note that the sofa bed is actually quite comfortable, Viet did not have any complaints at all about his back after the few nights on it, and his back is normally quite “picky”. Decoration inside the room is simple but elegant and very adorable, and the room has good space, there were no problems even with all our suitcases left open on the floor (at one point). Kept clean and very well maintained a place it is, did not recall spotting any moulds or stains. The house is air-conditioned and also has free wifi connection throughout.
The rates are also extremely reasonable in the “notoriously” expensive Venice. After 1 whole week of looking, I suddenly stumbled upon something that was considerably lower than the rest, I would not sacrifice quality for the price alone, and was a bit skeptical, but after reading the comments, I decided to try my chances, and it was totally worth it. We loved this place!
Every morning, Nicola would go to the house (he lives at another place in Castello) to prepare breakfast, cut the cake, bring the bread, and to answer any questions you may have before your day of exploration, and I must say that the friendly chat we have every morning is one of the many charms of Oceano Mare. We were told stories and experience from a local Venetian, about the local life, about where and how to go, what to see, events that were on, places to eat, and of course, what the reasonable prices would be. For the recommended places, Nicola marked them all on a map, and also showed us the many routes we could take to maximise our time in Venice. You can ask him pretty much anything for your trip!! On our last day, we asked him how best to get to the airport, he showed us the way, even went online to check the latest timetable and the ticket price, could not be more helpful and hospitable!
If it was luxurious pamper you seeked, then this is probably not the place, but if you want comfort with convenience and great hospitality while letting your mind relax in the real Venetian air, definitely try to book a room here, and hopefully at the end of your trip you would leave Oceano Mare feeling the same way we did.
A bit of a side story of the house’s history, yet another charming feature it has:
Nicola inherited the house from his grandfather who moved to Venice many years ago. He first went to Venice to see the house and to learn more about his grandfather whom he had not gotten to know very much. It was an interesting discovery of stories from the past, and Nicola also found out that his grandfather had every room in his house laid out to be a separate guest room, in order to welcome any of his friends to come and stay even for long periods. After which Nicola decided to remain in Venice and turned the house into a Oceano Mare B&B so that it would continue to be a hospitable place as it had been. When you visit, you should ask Nicola for stories about his grandfather, Signore Gambino, the main character of the painting above, a friendly man with a hint of very likeable eccentricity, who would go out of his way to help a stranger in need.
On the front desk, Nicola keeps a collection of frog figurines (he likes frogs) of different materials and origin, given to him by returning guests from all over the world. The next time we are in Venice, will definitely get one from Vietnam to add to this collection.
Oceano Mare B&B
Address: Calle Dona 2703, 30122 Venice, Italy
Tel: +39 347 5391782