Most people don’t come to Venice to shop. The main attractions here are bustling piazzas, charming canals, fantastic restaurants, and countless historical attractions, like St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, and the Rialto Bridge. Galleries and museums are everywhere, and these top sights should be experienced, but hopefully, your trip allows a little time for some retail therapy.
Chances are, if it’s not your first time in the City of Masks, you’ve already done the major sightseeing, and it will be easier to carve out some shopping time. The city’s narrow streets are lined with interesting shops, so it would be a shame to miss an opportunity to find the perfect Venice souvenir.
As you leave the train station and start to navigate the somewhat chaotic city streets, it’s a good idea to check your unneeded luggage into a Venice Train Station luggage storage before you head out. Many stores are full to the brim and quite pokey, so a large suitcase or backpack is certainly less than ideal.
Here are all the best options for Venice souvenirs and how to get your hands on them:
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The Venetian island of Murano is known the world over for its long-standing tradition of glass-making. Located a short water taxi or vaporetto ride from central Venice, many tourists make it to this history-steeped island naturally, so there’s likely no excuse not to browse for your perfect Murano glass creation.
Murano glass is pretty much everywhere in Venice, but it’s not all created equal. Ideally, you want to source your glass from the island itself rather than a souvenir shop selling everything in the center of the city. Although it’s by appointment only, it’s worth putting in a little effort to visit the Original Murano Glass Factory & Showroom to get your vase, dish, or sculpture. Plus, as an added bonus, they also perform glass-blowing demonstrations here.
Venice isn’t called the City of Masks by accident. Linked to the tradition of the Venice Carnival, which has been troubled over the years since it’s believed to have started in the 12th century, masks were commonly worn to hide people’s identities. This was generally to allow them to perform lewd acts without the fear of repercussions, but nowadays, and especially since Carnival got up and running in the 1930s after a long pause, masks are worn more to celebrate than to hide.
Similar to Murano glass, masks are available throughout Venice. Browsing is the best way to buy one, as generally, you’ll know “the one” when you see it. Pick up whichever style suits you, but just be aware that you get what you pay for. Glitter, feathers, and even paint are likely to come off easily if you go with the lowest price point.
While Florence may be the epicenter of leather goods, most of Italy, including Venice, is renowned for quality leather products. This is one of the Venice souvenirs that you should be prepared to spend some money on if you’re going to commit. When you see stalls or shops with leather purses and bags stuffed everywhere and multiples of the same styles and colors, be a bit wary. Many of these items are made in China and probably not the memory of your Venice trip that you’re looking for.
Head to local boutiques instead, which will definitely be more expensive. Some recommendations include Il Grifone, where handcrafted bags are sold out of a small canal-side shop, and MICHELÆ DE FINA, where the bags are each a unique work of art.
Sometimes the best souvenirs are ones that you consume that bring you right back to that time in Piazza San Marco, or that restaurant tucked down a forgotten alley. If these are the kinds of items you like to bring home with you, consider:
It may seem a bit cliché, but Italians really do pasta better. While it likely won’t be feasible to bring home fresh pasta, go with authentic dried pasta – the next-best thing. A good option for your pasta needs is Pastificio Giacomo Rizzo, and they also sell wine and other edible treats.
To get the best bang for your buck, go for something daring like the black squid ink pasta or blueberry tagliatelle for the most shock value when you cook for your friends at home.
If you have a sweet tooth, you’ve probably tried this cookie with coffee during your Venice travels. Luckily, this flat treat, similar to biscotti, has a long shelf life and is certainly capable of being your Venice souvenir.
Invented in the 18th century in Venice, the cookie’s name comes from the Italian word for sea bass, and fortunately, this refers to the shape of the cookie, not the taste. Often, baicoli come in decorative tins that you can also repurpose at home once the contents have long since been devoured.
Italians really do a lot of things well, and coffee is definitely on that list. If you’ve had the perfect cup (paired with baicoli), it’s not that hard to create the same cup at home if you bring home the beans.
Caffè Florian is a definite favorite for coffee lovers, and the roasters have been operating in the same location in St Mark’s Square for over 300 years. The adjacent shop is as beautiful as it is historic, and you can pick up home goods, clothing, and other trinkets with your coffee.
Venice is a shopping paradise
As long as you’re not looking for large chains you recognize, you’re bound to enjoy Venetian shopping. Choose your souvenir carefully, but know that everything from edible items to masks to glass to leather is on offer here. Try not to spend too much!