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  • Pensione Accademia (Venice): If you ever wanted to live like Katharine Hepburn, here's your chance. Well, not exactly, though her character did live in this 16th-century Villa Maravege (Villa of Wonders) in the 1955 film Summertime. It sits in an enviable position, a flower-filled garden at the confluence of two canals emptying into the Grand Canal, and the rooms are done in a tasteful antique style that makes you feel as if you're staying in the home of your wealthy Venetian relative rather than in a hotel.
  • Hotel San Cassiano Ca'Favretto (Venice): It's one of the cheapest hotels on the Grand Canal -- plus the rooms and bar terrace overlook the prettiest stretch of the canal, with the Ca' d'Oro directly across the waters. Even most non-Grand Canal rooms overlook a side canal. All that, and the hotel in the 16th-century villa retains much of its 18th-century ambience (though room decor is vintage 1970s repro antiques).
  • Hotel Majestic Toscanelli (Padua): The management of the Toscanelli is always reinvesting in this gem of a hotel, three quiet shop- and osteria-lined blocks from the central Piazza delle Erbe. The reception is warm and helpful, and the location excellent.
  • Hotel Aurora (Verona): Situated right on the scenic Piazza delle Erbe, the Aurora enjoys a combination of prime location, low prices, and perfect, simple comfort that keeps guests coming back.
  • Antica Locanda Solferino (Milan): The most wonderfully eclectic hotel in Milan exudes character. It sits in the heart of the fashionable Brera neighborhood, its quirky amalgam of furnishings fitted into generally spacious rooms. Sig. Gerardo Vitolo leads one of the friendliest managements in town; it's no wonder this delightful place stays booked by regulars, who enjoy its creaky, homey atmosphere.
  • Agnello d'Oro (Bergamo): Bergamo may not quite be the Alps, but you're high up enough in their foothills that this tall, narrow ocher building with its flower-box windows, patio fountain, and sloping roof looks perfectly appropriate, offering a bit of Italianate Alpine charm smack-dab in the center of the pedestrian medieval quarter. Furnishings are simple and serviceable, but the price and location can't be beat.
  • Du Lac (Bellagio, Lake Como): Of all the hotels lining Bellagio's little lakefront piazza, the Du Lac is the friendliest by a long shot. For over a century and a half, it has offered comfort and genuine hospitality, from the panoramic dining room and rooftop sun terrace to the simple but fully stocked rooms and the bar tables tucked under the arcades of the sidewalk. The hotel recently added a pool and tennis courts.
  • Verbano (Stresa, Lake Maggiore): Why shell out hundreds of dollars for a hotel by the lake when you can have one on the lake for half the price? The dusty rose villa of the Verbano sits at the tip of Isola dei Pescatori, an island of colorful fishermen's houses in the midst of Lake Maggiore, with views over the landscaped Isola Bella, the lake, and the Alps beyond from most rooms and also from the gravelly terrace, where they serve excellent meals.
  • Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.