shopping in venice

Venice Shopping Guide: What to buy in Venice

Venice represents the very best and the very worst of shopping in Italy. 

There is no denying that the streets around St. Mark’s Square and other headliners are crammed full of tacky souvenir shops that cater to daytrippers who have little time and need to grab a trinket from the Floating City quickly. 

venice masks shopping

Strike out just a bit farther from the throngs, however, and you’ll find that Venice has one of the most thriving artisan scenes in all of Italy. You can find historic (and contemporary) workshops where skilled craftspeople painstakingly create fabulous wares by hand, from art glass to sumptuous silks. 

These treasures come at a cost, of course, but it’s worth it to know that you’ve been able to support the city’s authentic ateliers and artisans. Here is our Venice shopping guide for a few of the uniquely Venetian artisan souvenirs to look for in Venice.

  1. Masks 

Venice has been known for its masks for centuries, though the elaborate masks used in Carnivale celebrations today are a relatively recent evolution of the art. That said, these sumptuous hand-painted and decorated masks are an iconic souvenir from Venice and can be used as wall art at home. Be sure to focus on masks made at workshops in Venice like Carta Alta in Giudecca or Casin dei Nobili in Dorsoduro, since cheap imported versions are thick on the ground. For a more hands-on approach, enroll in a half-day mask-making course like the one at Ca’ Macana. 

  1. Stationery or notebooks

Cartolerie (stationery stores) across Italy dazzle with gorgeous handmade paper and leather-bound notebooks, and Venice is no exception. There are a couple of landmark stationary shops hidden among the back alleys of Venice that are both great places to purchase letterpress-printed cards and stationary and destinations in themselves. The most charming is Gianni Basso Stampatore and Alberto Valese—the latter is especially known for its marbled paper and bright notebooks.  

  1. Glass

By far the most famous artisan craft in Venice is hand-blown glass from the island of Murano, but you have to be cautious because unless you are purchasing directly from a workshop, you may end up with a cheap imitation. There are an endless number of workshops to choose from on Murano, from storied Salviani to the upstart Vaporetto. Invest in a work of glass art or chandelier (workshops ship) or choose smaller souvenirs like glass-topped wine stoppers, Christmas ornaments, jewelry, or knick-knacks like glass “candies” or miniature animals rendered in colored glass. 

  1. Textiles.

Venice has been known for its luxurious textiles—including velvet, brocade, damask, and silk and wool fabric—for centuries, and there are still a number of premium textile manufacturers in the city. The most famous are Fortuny and Luigi Bevilaqua; the former produces luxury printed fabrics and the latter woven works of art. Both are sought after by the most famous interior designers and you can visit their showrooms and workshops by appointment only. For top-quality fabrics and home décor with a more contemporary look, visit Chiarastella Cattana’s chic shop in the San Marco district.

  1. Slippers

Furlane, the chic gondolier slippers that have been a hallmark of Italian sprezzatura for decades, are made by a number of shops in Venice but by far the most famous is Piedaterre. Choose velvet, silk, cashmere, canvas, crochet—there are infinite fabrics in bright colors and patterns. These soft, rubber-soled staples are worn both indoors and outdoors and offer a nonchalant elegance to any outfit. Easy to pack, these symbols of Venice begin at about €100 but limited edition styles can cost more than €300; other top options for furlane include Paola Zuin and Vibi Venezia

  1. Lace

Murano is known for its handmade glass and its neighboring island of Burano is known for its handmade lace. Though it was once one of Italy’s most prestigious lace-making centers, Burano now sells lace mostly made in China. One of the only ways to tell if what you’re looking at is authentic Burano lace is the (very high) price tag. To increase your chances of finding the real deal, browse the three floors of Emilia Burano, a landmark shop stuffed with fine bed, bath, and table linens. Even if don’t want to spend a pretty penny on handmade lace, head up to the third floor to admire the historic pieces displayed in their mini museum.

  1. Wine

You’ll likely want to drink some before you leave, and the Veneto has lots of good wineries. Local red wines to try include the high-end Amarone and the lower-end but still excellent Valpolicella. Prosecco, Amarone, and Valpolicella are easy to find outside Italy, but in general the labels that are consumed locally are not exported and vice-versa, so if you find one you really like, consider shipping home a case. A good spot to stock up on wine and other gourmet treats is Drogheria Mascari, the city’s premier foodie destination.

Looking for Italian discounts near Venice? One of Italy’s top outlet malls is about a half-hour from Venice.

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