I can hear a sharp intake of breath as soon as I give the location of the flat. Yes, it is still available - the agent explains - but it is in very poor condition.
I take a look at my notes.
'It is described as abitabile', I say.
'Abitabile, si. But in very poor condition.'
'And the building is very poor, un brutto condominio...'
'...in fact, four people have seen it and said the condition was too bad for them to want it'.
I'm impressed by his honesty, although his sales patter possibly needs a bit of work. I'm just about to sign off politely when he interjects, 'But you should perhaps see it anyway!'
I agree. I have no idea why, but I agree.
Caroline heads off to see it the very next day. My hopes aren't high, yet she returns saying that - although it really is in a bit of a state - it's a lot of flat for the money and maybe, just maybe, with a bit of work...
'Are you saying', say I, 'that You Could Do A Lot With It?'
'Mmmm. Yes, I suppose so.'
I bite my tongue. We make an appointment to see it together.
On a bright Sunday morning we head off to Giudecca. The agent, an affable fellow who has lived there all his life, meets us at Zitelle. The building itself was originally constructed to house workers at the Junghans company, and is located in what I suppose we'd now call a gated community. We enter through a locked door, walk down a passage, and through a series of gardens, past a series of condominiums all of which, it has to be said, look in rather better condition than the one he leads us too.
He tells us to be careful as we make our way up the stairs, and gives the bannister a good shake to indicate how perilous it is. The flat itself is completely bare. There is not a stick of furniture in it. We'd need to get a new kitchen. The bathroom is functional, but a depressing shade of pink, and the plumbing is such that the washing machine drains directly into the bath.
And yet...it is a lot of flat for the money. The location is pretty good, there's a huge amount of space, two terraces (one of which looks out towards the back of the Redentore) and a small (if completely overgrown) garden. Yes, you really could do a lot with it...
Then reality kicks in. The whole place requires repainting. The skirting boards, door frames and some of the doors need replacing. The window fittings are rusting through. Half the of the shutters/blinds no longer work. The floor, I have to concede, is in excellent condition but I'm not sure that "nice floor" is enough of a selling point.
I could, I suppose, repaint it all myself if I felt like spending an entire Venetian summer redecorating an unairconditioned flat. The rest of it is way beyond me. It could look fantastic. It's more likely to be a money pit.
We smile politely, and tell the agent we'll let him know...