Souvenir shopping in Venice can be overwhelming. There are hundreds of shops and stalls selling an array of cheap gifts and trinkets, but if you are looking for authentic Venice souvenirs then you have to be a little choosier when deciding what to buy in Venice. Avoid the fake knockoffs and check out these beautiful traditional souvenirs which will bring back memories of your time in Venice long after your holiday is over!
What to Buy in Venice: Venetian Masks
Authentic Venetian masks are some of the most iconic and beautiful souvenirs from Venice that you can buy. Cheap imported masks from China are for sale in almost every shop, but handmade papier mâché Venetian masks are harder to find. The real Venetian masks are of course more expensive, but they will last a lifetime and serve as an ongoing reminder of your time in Venice. Check out Schegge Art & Craft for beautifully painted masks, and Mistero Buffo and Ca’Macana for high-quality handmade masks. If you are feeling creative and want some time away from the crowds, try a mask-painting workshop where you can decorate your own handmade mask to take home!
Murano Glass Jewellery
Murano glass has been made in Venice for hundreds of years, and some Murano glass jewellery is a wonderful and good value Venice souvenir. You can pick up a Murano glass pendant or earrings for less than €20, or splash out on glass tableware, statues and other artwork. The best place to buy Murano glass in Venice is of course in Murano, where you can also see a glass-blowing demonstration at one of the Murano glass factories. However, if you would like to buy a more personal gift, you can take a one-on-one Murano Glass workshop to make your own Murano glass necklace. Massimiliano Calderone has a tiny workshop less than 10 minutes’ walk from Rialto Bridge where he works his magic creating beautiful glass designs. Check out his glass jewellery making workshop here.
Authentic Venice Souvenirs: Burano Lace
Handmade lace from the island of Burano is a beautiful gift, and a visit to Burano is a fabulous day trip from Venice, usually combined with a visit to Murano as well. If you want to see demonstrations of how the lace is made you can go to the Burano Lace Museum in the morning, where ladies will be making some lace, or visit one of the lace shops where there are often live demonstrations. There are various shops in Burano selling handmade lace products, just make sure you are buying the handmade Burano lace and not cheaper imports.
Shopping in Venice for Grappa
There are plenty of food and drink souvenirs you could buy in Venice, but most of them you can get at home. Grappa, however, is not as common abroad as prosecco, pasta or olive oil. Grappa is a spirit made from the skins, pulp, seeds, and stems of grapes after the winemaking process, and the distilled liquid from all this ‘waste’ makes delicious grappa. The Poli family have been making grappa in the Veneto region since 1898, and their shop in the heart of Venice offers grappa tastings and sells a wide variety of their grappas and grappa-based liqueurs. I had a tasting of 3 different liqueurs of my choice, which costs €3, but then as I bought a bottle of the rather delicious lemon liqueur the price of the tasting was included in the cost.
Authentic Gondolier Hats
Not my favourite Venice souvenir, however, it can be very useful to protect your head from the strong Italian sun! Everywhere you look in Venice there are cheap hats which do a similar job, but if you want the real thing, head to Emilio Ceccato, which is the official supplier and sponsor of the Associazione Gondolieri di Venezia. They don’t come cheap though, an authentic gondolier hat will set you back a whopping €139! If you don’t want to splash out that much, the shop also stocks smaller gifts like notepads.
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Marble Printed Paper
Traditionally from the Far East, the art of paper marbling is creating beautiful patterns of colours in a liquid, then blotting a piece of paper on top to transfer the colour. The art is known as Ebru in Turkey, where paper-marbling maestro Alberto Valese learned his craft. His shop in the San Marco district is filled with his exquisite creations, which you can buy in the form of wrapping paper, cards, notebooks and more. Smaller items cost just a few euros so you don’t need to worry about splashing out.
What to Buy in Venice: Door Knockers
I hadn’t considered door knockers as particularly Venetian until I spotted some of the unique designs. There are lions, cherubs and a variety of African designs as well as some fantastical animals – door knocker spotting could be a fun distraction from the crowds as you disappear down a quiet street and see what you can find. To buy your own Venetian brass door knocker head to Fonderia Artistica Valese, or you might finder cheaper or second-hand ones at various shops and stalls around the city.
Authentic Venice Souvenirs: Leather Handbags
Italian leather is renowned for being high quality. If you are looking for a genuine Italian leather handbag, head to Francis Model’s shop close to Rialto Bridge. They have a beautiful selection of bags and purses, and you can be sure that your money is being spent on a real artisan product. The shop is small, but worth seeking out.
Book lovers will never want to leave the gorgeous Acqua Alta Bookshop, which is full to bursting with second-hand books. There are several different rooms, and books are stacked everywhere, including in a gondola and even outside! Even if you don’t find a book you want to take home with you, the bookshop itself is well worth a visit for the books and endless Instagram opportunities! If you don’t buy anything remember to leave a donation for the resident cat’s food.
Wooden Accessories from an Oar-Maker
If you’ve taken a gondola ride in Venice, or just admired them from afar, you can take home a lasting souvenir made by a Venetian oar maker. Il Forcolaio Matto is a workshop owned by Piero Dri, who is as skilled craftsmen making oars and forcole which are the oar-holders on gondolas and other traditional rowing boats. Forcole are made specifically for each gondolier to perfectly suit their height and weight. Forcole are also considered as a work of art in themselves, so you could buy a full size one, or request a miniature version to take home. Piero also makes smaller wooden gifts and accessories like jewellery, cutting boards, ladles and more. I popped into the workshop to take a look around and to admire some of the forcole on display – if you do want to buy something from here I’d suggest going early on in your visit or even pre-order it to allow for time to make your souvenir.
And for Something Different
I came across this cool little shop called Feelin’ Venice selling T-shirts, prints and other gifts which really stood out from the usual tourist tat. Everything is designed by local artists and the shop was a welcome change from the traditional gifts and imported souvenirs.
Where to Stay in Venice
As the #wombatsTraveller ambassador for wombat’s Hostels, I stayed at the new wombat’s Hostel in Venice Mestre, which is right next to the train station. I loved staying here, it is a brand new hostel with friendly staff and great facilities, with dorms or private rooms to choose from. Being right next to the station it is really convenient for arriving from the train or airport, and easy to get to Venice whenever I wanted. I’ll publish a full review of the hostel soon, but you can check out the pre-opening sneak peek here, or visit the wombat’s Hostels website directly.
Do you know what to buy in Venice after reading this? Which Venice souvenirs would you spend your money on? I’d love to hear what you think, please leave your comments below.
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