Most visitors to Venice consider shopping as part of their must-do Venice experience. Nothing says you’ve been to La Serenissima quite like the sight of authentic Venice souvenirs and gifts that line the walls and fill the spaces of your home. But given that there are scores of shops and stalls selling a multitude of low-quality, mass-produced, and imported trinkets, you have to be a little savvier when deciding what to buy in Venice.
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Where to Find the Best Venice Souvenirs?
As you explore the fascinating and diverse neighborhoods of Venice, you’ll find that few cities in the world of similar size have such a wide array of goods to browse through. The beautifully arranged windows of many alluring shops have innumerable items that cannot fail to tempt shoppers.
Although you’ll find countless vendors of trademark Venetian wares, the authenticity of some goods can be suspect and these kitschy items are nothing more than decoys for the amateurs.
To enjoy the excitement of finding something truly Venetian, you need curiosity to dig deeper, a sense of adventure, and in some cases, deeper pockets.
There is still a strong artisan tradition in Venice and the city is home to a number of antique shops, artisan studios, and fashion-forward boutiques. Sustainable craft shopping is an intimate experience and, if the costs are quite high, keep in mind that by supporting these ancient crafts, you are also supporting Venice itself.
The San Marco area is full of shops and haute couture boutiques such as Armani, Missoni, Valentino, and Versace. Le Mercerie, Calle dei Fabbri, and Calle Larga XXII Marzo, all leading from St. Mark’s Square, are some of Venice’s most highly-trafficked shopping streets.
Other good shopping areas in Venice are along the zigzagging Calle Frezzeria, Calle delle Botteghe, and the streets north of Campo Santo Stefano in San Marco; along Barbaria de le Tole in Castello; the area near Campo San Barnaba and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Dorsoduro; along Fondamenta dei Ormesini in Cannaregio; and on the islands of Murano and Burano.
Regular store hours are usually 09:00 to 12:30 and 15:30 or 16:00 to 19:00 from Monday-Saturday. However, many stores aimed directly at tourists are open all day and even on Sundays. Many stores remain closed on Italian public holidays and are closed either in August for the summer holiday or in January.
One of our favorite souvenir shops in Venice is a nifty little boutique called Feelin’ Venice. Unlike the generic imported souvenirs you’ll often see in Venice, you’ll find a huge range of products designed by local artists.
At Feelin’ Venice, there are mugs, t-shirts, tote bags, and backpacks printed with well-thought-out abstract renderings of Venice landmarks as well as art prints, and sketchbooks.
Venice Souvenirs: What to Buy in Venice
Whether you’re a traveler looking for unique Venice souvenirs, or a shopper in need of gifts for people who love Venice, you can’t go wrong with these items.
Masks are the quintessential Venice souvenir and one of the best things to bring back from Venice. All over the city, you can find a mind-boggling array of masks, traditionally made for the Carnival of Venice in papier-mâché, ceramic, and even leather.
Masks have been a large part of Venice’s culture dating back to the 12th century and over time have become the symbol of Carnival and of Venice itself. Mask designs range from Commedia dell’Arte motifs and traditional designs to contemporary abstracts, and many are ornate and flamboyant.
Many of these masks are cheap, mass-produced, and churned out by factories located outside of Italy. However, if you want to resist buying these inferior mass-produced masks, there is a range of shops in Venice selling genuine hand-crafted masks–including some highly imaginative creations.
In order to buy authentic Venetian masks, head over to Ca’ Macana in Dorsoduro, one of the oldest and finest mask-making workshops in Venice. Boasting perhaps the biggest stock of masks in the city, you can select from the full Carnival range and much more besides. Prices of Venetian masks range from 20 EUR up to 2000 EUR per piece.
Ca’ Macana’s lofty reputation impressed the late Stanley Kubrick so much that he ordered several for his final film—the orgiastic Eyes Wide Shut.
Besides Ca’ Macana, you can find authentic Venetian masks at Papier Maché in Castello whose designs are absolutely stunning. Tragicomica, in the district of San Polo, is also another fantastic option for purchasing high-quality handmade masks.
If you are feeling creative and are interested in the provenance and technique of mask making, I strongly suggest trying an insightful mask-painting workshop where you can decorate your own handmade mask to take home!
2. Murano Glassware
Murano glass is probably the most popular Venetian souvenir and all over the city you’ll be confronted by mind-boggling displays of traditional and contemporary glassware, too much of it kitsch. Murano glass is famed for its unparalleled quality, exquisite range of colors, and unsurpassed craftsmanship.
Traditional Murano glass is hot, blown glass, not lead crystal; it comes in myriad forms including show-stopping goblets and chandeliers, beads, vases, sculpture, and more. The best pieces are works of art signed by great Italian artists and designers.
Authentic Murano Glass prices range from about 25 EUR for small trinkets to extremely expensive art glass pieces which run into thousands of euros.
For authentic Murano glass, you should go to the main source of production, the small island of Murano, about 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) north of Venice. Here, along with shopping for all kinds of beautiful items like bowls, vases, paperweights, and holiday ornaments, you can also witness a glass-blowing demonstration at one of Murano’s glass factories.
Some of the best places to buy genuine Murano glass in Murano are Barovier & Toso and Seguso while L’Isola, Venini, and Paropamiso are some of the best places to buy traditional Murano glassware in Venice.
Don’t buy any Murano glassware that doesn’t have the “Vetro Artistico Murano” trademark – the shops are awash with fake Murano ware, much of it from China.
For an ultimate once-in-a-lifetime experience, you can take a private lesson with a master Venetian artisan who will help you to create your personal unique, and inimitable piece of glass using the old Murano glass techniques.
3. Burano Lace
The small island of Burano (roughly a 40-minute boat ride from Venice) in the Venetian lagoon has a long-established tradition of needle-lace making.
Done with breathtaking intricacy, the internationally esteemed pieces of handmade Burano lace stitched together with gossamer-fine threads make for a beautiful gift to bring from Venice.
You can find a number of handmade lace products in Burano like tablecloths, centerpieces, collars, linen, handkerchiefs, fans, and wedding veils.
Buyers should beware of any lace that costs less than 100 EUR because it’s likely not the real thing. Real Burano lace takes a long time to make and even the smallest piece of lace could take weeks to finish.
The handmade lace sold at Burano’s Scuola del Merletto is expensive, but at least this is the one outlet where you can be sure that what you’re buying is 100 percent authentic. Otherwise, Martina Vidal Venezia is also another great option.
Il Merletto and Jesurum are two places in Venice to exquisite handmade Burano lace.
4. Venetian Marbled Paper
Marbled paper is a Venetian specialty that is truly one of the most unique Venice souvenirs. The traditions of marbling paper began in the 14th century when Venice was at the vanguard of the burgeoning publishing industry.
Marbling is the technique of creating colorful patterns by sprinkling and brushing color pigments on a pan of oily water and then transforming this pattern to paper.
In Venice, you can buy photograph albums, greeting cards, and a large range of stationery items covered in decorative marbled paper, as well as paper by the individual sheet. Each sheet of marbled paper is unique.
Inspired by familiar images, some of the most popular Venetian marbled paper designs are chiocciola (snail), conchiglia (shell), Marmo Pettinato (combed marble), and Pavone (peacock).
Shops selling these marbled papers, notebooks, and so forth can be found all over Venice; however, Arzanart, Antica Legatoria Ofer, and Paolo Olbi are some of our favorite places to purchase marble paper in Venice.
5. Leather Goods
Italy is famed for its premium leather products, so be sure to treat yourself to a new leather handbag or other leather items while you’re in Venice. Italian leather is so popular worldwide because of its quality and high standards.
By combining the highest quality grain of leather with a complex but rewarding tanning method (vegetable tanning), Italian artisans are able to produce an exceptional type of leather.
Most of the process is done by hand and this ensures that every inch of the leather receives proper treatment and effuses a rich, earthy, and woody aroma.
Some of the best places to purchase authentic handmade leather bags, shoes, belts, and other items in Venice include Balducci Borse in Cannaregio, Il Grifone in Santa Croce, and Francis Model near the Rialto Bridge.
6. Wooden Toys
If you’re on the lookout to buy unusual gifts and Venice souvenirs, one of the places you should definitely check out is Signor Blum on San Barnaba Square in Dorsoduro.
This little workshop has charming carved and painted wooden objects and toys (musical instruments, clocks, palace facades, etc), entirely hand-cut, which make great gifts for kids or those young at heart.
Aficionados of hand-crafted model boats, boat construction, and restoration ought to head to Gilberto Penzo, a wonderful little shop full of fascinating miniature boat models, books, plans, and pictures.
If you’ve fallen in love with the Venetian vessels, you can buy an elaborate miniature here – from models of Venetian taxi boats to gondolas and water buses. And if you desire to build one by yourself, you can even buy a kit with full instructions included.
7. Gondolier’s Hats
Gondolier’s Hats are one of the most popular souvenirs to buy in Venice. Handmade with wheat straw, the wide-brimmed gondolier’s hat is designed to be durable and waterproof.
The Swiss satin ribbon around the crown which trails off the back and comes in different colors is durable and waterproof as well. These hats offer cool comfort on a hot Venetian summer day.
Although you can find cheap knockoffs of gondolier’s hats all over the city, you’ll want to head to Emilio Ceccato, official purveyor for Venice’s Gondola Association. You can even acquire an authentic striped gondolier’s vest at the store. Gondolier’s Hats don’t come cheap though, one of these beauts will set you back nearly 140 EUR.
Otherwise, the workshop of Giuliana Longo is a good alternative. Here, you can also get gondolier’s hats a little cheaper as well as Panama hats and other accessories.
8. Fabrics & Textiles
Luxury fabrics and textiles for furnishing and high fashion are some of the best traditional souvenirs to buy in Venice. Venice is well known for fine silks and velvets, whether plain or gloriously patterned.
The city has also long been famed for sumptuous brocades and tapestries that are a feast for the eyes.
A reputed name in fabrics in Venice is Luigi Bevilacqua, whose beautiful brocades, shimmering velvets, damasks, and silks have graced many of Europe’s grandest palaces and Italy’s ritziest modern apartments.
The Bevilacqua family has been weaving precious fabrics by hand since the 1700s and you can see the ancient wooden looms they continue to use today.
Other big names in fabrics in Venice are Chiarastella Cattana and Venetia Stadium. Both of these shops are highly acclaimed for their high-quality fabrics and you can impress your guests back home with princely household linen, tableware, cushions covers, scarves, soft furnishings, and bathrobes.
Oarlocks or rowlocks (fórcole) are truly unique Venice souvenirs and ones which you’ll really cherish if you’ve taken a gondola ride in Venice. The sinuous oarlock, that supports the gondolier’s oar, is a veritable work-of-art, not only because it is a symbol of the gondolas, but above all for its intrinsic value.
Made from seasoned trunks of walnut, pear, or cherry wood, each oarlock is a unique piece, crafted specifically for the boat and gondolier. It is calibrated according to the type of boat as well as the height and weight of the rower in order to ensure optimal performance between the narrow Venetian canals.
Two of the best ateliers where you can get exquisite oarlocks are the workshop of Paolo Brandolisio in Castello and the Il Forcolaio Matto workshop in Cannaregio. The miniature oarlocks will set you back around 150 EUR whereas the original ones sell for 500 EUR upwards.
In addition to miniature and collectible oarlocks, you can also find other beautiful hand-carved objects such as ladles, cutting boards, bracelets, and necklaces.
10. Door Knockers
As you stroll around the narrow, cobbled alleys of Venice, you’ll encounter a motley of beautiful and sophisticated door knockers. These art relics of the Italian Middle Ages and Renaissance, usually made of steel, brass, or copper go perfectly with many of Venice’s medieval buildings.
Venice door knockers range from simple designs, where the striker is a simple metal ring, or they have ornate designs like masks, allegorical figures, lions, lyres, and serpentine creatures.
Door knockers are one of the best souvenirs to buy in Venice if you would like a touch of intrigue, history, and quaintness to your door back home.
To buy your unique Venetian door knocker, head over to Fonderia Artistica Valese. The price of door knockers ranges from 50-250 EUR but you may also be able to snag some cheaper ones at antique stores and shops over the city.
If you’re looking for a food item that’s unique to Venice to try and bring back home, pick up a tin of buranelli or bussolai.
Known for their durability and nutritious value, these yellow butter cookies from Burano were originally created as a source of energy for local Venetian sailors out at sea for long periods.
Made from flour, butter, sugar, and egg yolks, and flavored with lemon zest and vanilla, buranelli taste kind of lemony, sort of plain, and yet, are strangely addictive.
Buranelli come in the form of rings or shaped like the letter “S”. They can be eaten plain or by dipping them in wine, coffee, or tea.
Buranelli are found in abundance in bakeries all over Venice. If you happen to visit the island of Burano, you can get buranelli at Pasticceria Costantini or Pasticceria Garbo.
For a distinctive Italian-made liqueur, purchase a bottle of grappa. Grappa is a brandy-like spirit that is made from the residue of skins, pips, and stalks (pomace or vinaccia) left after grapes have been pressed to make wine.
Often consumed as a digestif, the so-called “firewater” has a sour plum-like flavor. Many wine shops and supermarkets sell several varieties of grappa and grappa-based liqueurs.
Liquor lovers should definitely consider investing in a bottle of Bellini as it makes for a great Venetian souvenir. The world-renowned cocktail made with a combination of Prosecco and fresh white peach pureé was concocted in 1948 at the famous Harry’s Bar in Venice.
You can purchase a bottle of the famous Bellini cocktail at a supermarket in Venice for a couple of euros.
Instead of getting a generic souvenir, how about taking home a cool Venetian antique. For a city with such a vivid history, antiques are one of the best things to buy in Venice.
Bargain hunters will find their money’s worth in the antique stores in the vicinity of San Maurizio Square in San Marco and in the San Barnaba district of Dorsoduro. From large-scale items to eclectic bric-a-brac, there are treasures to be found.
There is a little something for everyone in the antique stores of Venice. We recommend checking out Antichità al Ghetto, which caters to the most avid of collectors.
Further Reading For Your Venice Visit
That summarizes our definitive guide to the best traditional Venice souvenirs. However, we reckon you’ll find the following resources useful for planning your trip to Venice!
Further Reading For Your Venice Visit
→ Check Out the 30 Essential Things to do in Venice
→ Find Out How to Spend One Perfect Day in Venice!
→ Discover How to Spend a Blissful Weekend in Venice!
→ Read Our Comprehensive Guide to Public Transport in Venice
→ Check Out the 30+ Must-See Sights Along the Grand Canal in Venice
→ Uncover the 19 Best Photo Spots in Venice!
→ Check Out the 22 Essential Foods and Drinks to Try in Venice!
→ Learn About the Best 12 Best Cicchetti Bars in Venice!
→ Find Out About the 11 Best Gelato Shops in Venice!
Now, what do you think? What are some of your favorite traditional Venice souvenirs? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!