La Residenza (Venice): Just off the highly fashionable Riva degli Schiavoni sits one of the great remaining cheap pensioni in Italy, a 15th-century palazzo converted into an inexpensive hotel. Hotels this cheap are hard to come by anywhere in Venice, let alone in such a prime location, and none have such remarkable decor and faded style. Its 15 rooms occupy the piano nobile, the high-ceilinged "noble floor" where the wealthy family once lived, so it sports 18th-century stuccoes over Venetian-style furnishings, 17th-century oil paintings, and Murano chandeliers.
Foresteria Valdese (Palazzo Cavagnis; Venice): If La Residenza is full, you may luck into even more decaying style (18th-c. frescoes decorate the ceilings in several rooms) for less money at this 16th-century palazzo run as a sort of hostel by the Waldesian and Methodist Church. The drawbacks are that it's a sort of hostel-type arrangement -- many, but not all, of the accommodations are shared rooms -- and the rooms lack amenities such as telephones and air-conditioning. The location isn't quite as sweet as that of La Residenza, but the rooms do have balconies over a lovely small side canal.
Hotel Galleria (Venice): This place is remarkable: a 17th-century palazzo with double rooms for under 110€, a half-dozen of which open directly onto the Grand Canal, and it's next door to one of Venice's top sights, the Accademia Gallery. All that and you get breakfast (including freshly baked bread) in bed.
Pensione Guerrato (Venice): This charming pensione is run by a pair of brothers-in-law in a converted 13th-century convent near the daily Rialto market. The furnishings are mismatched but lovely, a mix of antiques culled from markets over the years, and the breakfast is excellent. They also rent two great apartments at excellent prices near San Marco.
Hotel Bernardi-Semenzato (Venice): The friendly Pepoli family runs this well-maintained palazzo hidden a block off the main drag about halfway between the train station and San Marco. It's surrounded by osterie and good restaurants patronized by locals, and the modernized rooms retain rough wood-beam ceilings and antique-style furnishings. They also rent simple but spacious rooms in two annexes nearby that make you feel as if you're staying in your own Venetian apartment; one room has a fireplace, another overlooks a pair of side canals.
Due Mori (Vicenza): Just off the central Piazza dei Signori lies this simple, no-frills but comfortable hotel, the oldest in Vicenza, packed with genuine 19th-century antiques and a friendly reception.
Grifone (Sirmione, Lake Garda): Would you believe a vine-covered hotel where the simple rooms enjoy views of the lake and access to a small beach for under 80€ a person? Well, that's on offer at this gem of an inn around the corner from the little medieval castle. Book early.
Fasce (Santa Margherita Ligure): This little hotel a few blocks up from the harbor is now in its third generation of family management, which includes the incredibly helpful British-born Jane at the front desk. Not only are the bright guest rooms spacious and comfortable, and the surroundings a lovely profusion of plants and flowers, but they pile on the extras, from free bicycles to Cinque Terre packets for guests who stay at least 3 nights (including a train ticket a day and all the info you need to explore the coast).
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.