Where to Shop: Venice, Italy



My friend Alexis just got back from Venice—one of the most magical places in the world—and brought home the best souvenirs. She reported, however, that she found the guidebooks to be a bit hit-or-miss when it came to shopping recommendations: “There was a lot to sift through, and some of the listings were out-of-date.”

So where should you look? Though she makes no claims about these being the very best, I trust that Alexis did her research.

Here are some of the souvenirs you might seek out in Venice and, most importantly, where to find them…


Papier Maché
Calle Lunga S. Maria Formosa 5174/b, Castello, Venezia

Hand-constructed and hand-painted Venetian masks and home decor. According to their website (translated), “the masks are all built with the traditional technique of paper mache mold negative plaster. The technique of construction and decoration is done entirely by hand, as in 1400, a time of establishment of the first guild of ‘mascareri’ in the Most Serene Republic of Venice.”

The woman I spoke with when purchasing my mask was extremely kind and told me about the process of how they are created and hand-painted. They are kind of pricey—I paid 70€ for an eye-mask with gold leaf – but given the work behind them I felt it was worth it and enjoyed contributing to what I think is beautiful art and tradition. I even got to see a woman painting a mask while I was there. They often work in the window so passersby can get a peek at the process.

Emilio Ceccato 
Orafecio 16 (beside the Rialto bridge), San Polo, Venezia

Venetian gondolier’s uniform shop (in a good way). Lovely red-and-white and blue-and-white striped boatnecks, sweaters, t-shirts, and scarves. Also, rowing jackets and straw boaters. I was tempted by the women’s navy-and-white striped sweater, but opted for just a little t-shirt for our baby. Tip: If crossing the bridge from San Marco, turn left on Riva del Vin before descending the last set of bridge stairs, and take the first possible right, and then another immediate right.

Campo San Barnaba 2840, Dorsoduro, Venezia

A lovely shop of wooden puzzle objects cut and painted exclusively by hand. SignorBlum has figurines of Venetian buildings and scenes (we opted for St. Mark’s Campanile), animals, boats, bicycles and more. The perfect gift for any little ones in your life. But I wouldn’t have left without one for myself, too!

Calle Lunga San Barnaba 2864, Dorsoduro, Venezia

A wide and colorful (every bag comes in a multitude of shades) selection of leather and suede bags made in Italy. The woman who helped me—who was wonderful—explained that Officine 904 is a multi-disciplinary studio, creating other products as well, but this store was just bags. The pieces are a bit of a splurge, but beautiful and unique if you are looking for something special.

Kalimala Cuoieria
Salizada San Lio 5387, Castello, Venezia

Handmade leather shoes, bags, belts and more. The gentleman who makes all of the loot helped me select a beautiful pair of shoes and shared that all of the leather is from Tuscany and tanned with vegetable oil. I especially liked that his shoes came in colors you don’t typically see stateside. He also accepts custom orders for those who don’t mind delayed gratification (I’m sure it would be worth the wait!).

Campiello Querini Stampalia 5252, Castello, Venezia

This shop inside the Museo della Fondazione Querini Stampalia has an eclectic and fun selection of everything from jewelry to Venetian glass to kitchen tools. I spent most of my time looking at the great selection of books for both adults and children. I left with two children’s books that include text in both Italian and English (hoping to start the baby on learning a foreign language early!), and my husband was thrilled to find a book on Venetian architecture.


On food: My husband Sam and I found it harder than expected to track down a great place to experience Venice’s traditional cicchetti (also sometimes spelled “cichetti” or “cicheti” in Venetian language)—small snacks such as toasts with smoked fish pâtés, fried bite-sized surprises, cheeses, cured meats, olives, et cetera. They are often hearty, and one night we hit up both of the below spots and sampled that day’s offerings as dinner! It was awesome and very budget-friendly: each item was 1€-3€. These two places happen to be down the street from one another and are right across from a photograph-worthy gondola workshop.

Cantinone già Schiavi 
Location: Fondamenta Nani 992, Dorsoduro, Venezia

Osteria al Squero
Location: Fondamenta Nani 943/944, Dorsoduro, Venezia

What tips would you add?

Thank you, Alexis! It’s been many years since we visited Venice and I’d love to go back. The city is breathtaking. (Photos of Venice from our trip, pre-kids. Read our full travelogue, here.)

P.S. More recent travelogues for Rome, Tuscany, and the Amalfi Coast. And a Pinterest guide to Italy with a map.

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