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Venice on a recession dollar? Need help on making trip affordable

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My husband and I (36 and 34) are avid travelers. This is our second trip to Italy (we went to Florence, Rome, Amalfi Coast, Sicily in 07). This time it will be Bologna, Venice, the Lakes (eight days).

While our flight is super-affordable, we're having trouble finding a clean, safe, practically-located hotel or B&B in Venice for just under $100US. Any recommendations? We're this close to staying in a nearby town for cheaper hotel rates and taking a day-trip to Venice, but I'm afraid we'll be disappointed with that in the end.

Please chime in with any musts/favorites for Venice/Bologna/Lakes. We love to stroll, take photos of interesting landscapes/architecture, visit churches, hang with locals and eat delicious food.

Thanks for the help,
C

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