Help support local artists and tradition while buying unique hand made souvenirs…
Venice, like Florence, is a city of art and fine craftsmanship. Handmade glass, marbled paper, lace are still made the same way for centuries. But there are less and less crafts men and women making these works of art. Modernisation and mass tourism has left Venetian artisans suffering. Soon there will be none left unless demand comes back. When I go to Venice I take the opportunity to pick up gifts to keep on hand until birthdays or Christmas come around, while I always pick up something special for myself. There are many lovely little places to choose from, here are a handful I go to every time I’m in Venice.
Carlo Moretti L’Isola: Carlo Moretti is the glass artist where all others follow. Italian design at its iconic best, with exciting bold design at its most chic. Calle de le Botteghe, 2970, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
BAC Art Studio: I love to bring back small prints of Venice. BAC art Studio has wonderful prints from various local artist that I have collected over the years. They used to have a few small shops scattered around Venice, sadly now there is only one. S. Marco, 3451, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
La Ricerca: I have been going to this shop since my first trip to Venice! I always go back because it has a little bit of everything. Small glass items, prints, keychains and lots of marble paper products which include diaries, address books, picture frames, photo albums, and writing books. It is one of my favourite places and I always pick up a few things. S. Marco, 2431, 30124 Venezia
Markus Art Gallery: While I don’t tend to shop right on Piazza San Marco, this Murano glass shop at the far right corner (with the basilica at your back) is the exception. I first fell in love with the little fiori beaded paperweights, and still stop through to pick up fun things like different, mismatched glasses, or colourful shot glasses. S. Marco, 81, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
The Dorsoduro neighbourhood of Venice is filled with wonderful independent artisans showcasing their work. Glass, jewellery, paper craft, paintings… little boutiques one right after another they are definitely worth a browse. The best way to do it is take the Vaporetto #1 to the Salute stop, get off there and make your way straight down the only direct street towards thee Peggy Guggenheim Museum and then towards the Academia. All along those narrow streets are many artisan studios and shops to check out. Here are a couple of my favourites to look out for…
Il Pavone: This tiny shop and work studio next to the Guggenheim Shop is an old style printing shop making prints from wood blocks with bold designs. What makes this place a bit different is they don’t only print paper products, they print on fabric as well so I always swing by to pick a few of their t-shirts, tote bags and small fabric bags to use for travel or at home. And they don’t take up too much room in the suitcase! Sotoportego e Corte Venier dei Leoni, 721, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy
Designs 188: Part of an Italian woman’s wardrobe are unique jewelry pieces. Bold, or arty, but always chic and individual. The items in Designs 188 are a mix of contemporary design jewelry mixed with local Murano glass for elegant statement pieces. I love the thick glass rings and the mesh necklaces. Calle del Bastion 188, Dorsoduro
Ca’ Macana: If you go to Venice, even if not for Carnival you must pick up a mask, it is the ultimate souvenir. While you will find them everywhere, go to a shop where there is a tradition of mask making and a history that goes back years, like this one reputed to be one of Venice’s oldest mask makers. Ca Macana is magical and filled with so many to choose from it might be hard to only get one. There are all the traditional carnival masks, half masks that only go across the eyes, and an endless imagination of any mask you might want. You can even buy unpainted masks to paint yourself and they even conduct workshops. While there is also another shop in Cannareggio, this one is in the Dorsoduro, near the Ca’ Rezzonico. Dorsoduro 3215 30123 Venezia
You will find gorgeous glass and masks everywhere, but it is often better to explore away from the tourists spots such as San Marco and Rialto. You will get much better prices as well as more selection. That does not mean if you find something you adore on Piazza San Marco you should get it. If you see something you love I say get it now instead of trying to rush back for it later. But if you do have the time, take time to explore further away from the tourists parts of the city. Dorsoduro as stated earlier has a great selection of different shops, as does the quieter streets of Castello.
What to bring back (for you and for gifts):
Small glass items like keychains with Murano glass beads make surprisingly impressive gifts. Marble printed paper bookmarks (La Ricerca) are easy to bring back and many times I include them with a book I gift someone. As do printed tote bags with Venice themes on them (see Il Pavone). Wine stoppers with bright glass tops also are an easy gift to give on its own, or a wonderful bottle of wine.
My treasures from Venice include a few different masks, a gorgeous Murano glass mirror!, and several colourful tumbler glasses (Carlo Moretti) along with a few art prints of Venice gondoliers at sunset. And as a gift, I was given a gold gondola pendant on my first trip to Venice which remains one of my favourite possessions.
For a bit of whimsy… The glass “candies” that come in a variety of colours make fun gifts. Or collect a few and put them in a glass bowl.