VENICE, Italy (AP) _ Nancy Reagan didn't sleep as well as the president on the special bed airlifted here from Portugal for their suite in the Villa Condulmer, the first lady's press secretary said Thursday.

The Reagans arrived from Washington late Wednesday night and flew by helicopter to the secluded 17th Century villa 12 miles from Venice, where Reagan went to sleep at 1:30 a.m. and got up at 9 a.m.

Asked how Mrs. Reagan slept, her press secretary Elaine Crispen said: ''Not as well as he - but she never does.''

The first day of the Reagans' four-day visit before next Monday's summit opening didn't have quite the magical romance that Venice conjurs up for tourists with fewer security problems.

The day was grey and overcast, alternating between drizzle and heavy rain. Instead of a quiet dinner for two overlooking Venice's Grand Canal or a romantic boat ride with a singing gondalier, the Reagans stayed at the villa and invited their staff to join them watch a John Wayne movie.

The Reagans brought along some of their favorite videos, Mrs. Crispen said, and chose the ''colorized'' version of the original black and white cowboy classic ''Angel and The Bad Man.''

The villa stands on the ruins of an old monastary and during the morning, the Reagans went for a walk in the lush gardens, which is dotted with antique statues and includes a small pond with wild ducks.

But it started to rain after only 15 minutes and they returned to the villa for lunch on a patio under a canopy, Mrs. Crispen said.

Mrs. Reagan is ''praying for sunshine,'' she said, so they can explore the grounds and possibly go swimming.

The first lady had salad for lunch. ''I told her be sure and have pasta for dinner - it makes you sleep well,'' Ms. Crispen said.

The publicity over the queen-size bed - which was built for a Reagan visit to Portugal two years ago and flown here on Monday - has irritated the White House staff.

Before leaving Washington, Mrs. Crispen said, ''The Reagans, like many married couples, sleep together and they like a larger bed'' but the villa did not have one.

The White House stressed that the Reagans were not aware that the bed was being flown in for them and had not requested any special accommodations .

Mrs. Crispen said Thursday there was nothing left to say about it.

''The bed has been made and put to sleep,'' she said.

sms