Carol & Will’s scam
Beware the Scam!
You hold in your hand a craigslist printout telling you the address of the apartment you have paid a deposit on. You were to meet the property manager 30 minutes ago, but he still hasn’t shown up. The owner had responded to your emails quickly, even though you were in California and he had a German address. You have this unsettled, sickly feeling growing in your bowels, and that cappuccino that had tasted so good a half hour ago now seems to be curdling in your stomach. Something had seemed odd when you read that the apartment was on the Grand Canal but the address for it was on the Cannaregio Canal. The photos had looked amazing—gondolas parked outside the window, bright airy rooms at a low price. You’re afraid you’ve been scammed.
Something like this happened to my friends recently when they arrived in Venice. (In actuality, I’ve written an imagined account of their non-meeting.) They are seasoned travelers, savvy, have been to Venice numerous times, know their way around the city and around the vagaries of travel. Yet the apartment that seemed too good to be true really was.
Thankfully, they had the names of people who might help. They went to the Hotel Bernardi Semenzato in the SS Apostoli neighborhood, where the front desk clerk Santina and the owners, Leonardo and Teresa, who I’ve knows since 1996, helped my friends out with rooms for the first two nights (very difficult to procure in high season). Leonardo walked around town with them to try to find a long-term apartment, and another friend-of-a-friend helped out by translating Italian to English as they called possible apartment owners. Finally a Venetian friend, a banker who moonlights as a real estate broker but who is really an author and a jazz musician, found them a place near quiet SS Giovanni e Paolo.
It took three days, a lot of stress, many phone calls and emails, and a group effort, but Venetians saved my friends’ trip. My friends even got a write up in Il Gazzettino, the local paper, though it sounds like the journalist wasn’t too thorough in learning the whole story or in exposing the perpetrators. My friends are now happily downing cappuccinos, seeking out Biennale art to see if any of it is worthwhile, and sipping fragolino bianco.
The people there, people who would go so far out of their way to help strangers, are yet another reason why this city has a dear place in my heart.
As for craigslist, my friends have repeatedly asked that this listing be removed, but then the posters relist it with a slightly different title. Here’s the place: