Want to shop for high-quality, locally-made Italian souvenirs? I’ve rounded up the best shops in Venice!
When wandering the streets of Venice, it can be hard to tell what’s authentic and what’s geared towards simply grabbing tourist dollars. After more than two years of exploring and researching, I’ve found great options for shops that offer handmade, quality souvenirs that are worth the price and the luggage space. Here are the best shops in Venice!
Traditional Venetian Masks: Casanova
Stick your head into any tourist store and you’ll see glittery plastic masks. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely have one of these babies from New Orleans and love it to this day. But if you want the real deal, you have to know where to look.
My favorite spot for masks is Casanova. It’s an unassuming shop tucked not far off the main path from the train station to Piazza San Marco. The proprietor is also the creator of everything you see, and will probably be making masks in between helping customers.
While finished masks cover every inch of wall space, the back counter is reserved for creating new ones. He makes them in the traditional paper mache method by hand and can tell you the history behind each design. I love that he can tell you which designs are most traditional or the theatrical significance behind them, but he also offers some of the glitzy modern designs too! So you can get whatever design you want, knowing they’re handmade in the traditional way!
These masks are gorgeous, handmade, and reasonably priced, so if you want an authentic Venetian souvenir, shop at Casanova.
Books & Prints: Aqua Alta Libreria
Photographed endlessly on Instagram, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a photo taken here. Libreria Acqua Alta is a lovely bookshop tucked about 15 minutes’ walk from St. Mark’s piazza, and worth a visit even if you don’t buy anything!
Beyond irresistible photo ops, it’s known for gondolas crammed full of books and walls covered in old book spines. The owner’s cats lounge comfortably atop stacks, inviting you to enjoy relax. Understandably, most of their books are in Italian, but they also have gorgeous maps, postcards, and prints that make great gifts or souvenirs.
Unqiue Gifts for Kids: Signor Blum
If you want a unique souvenir for a child that will still remind you of Venice, try Signor Blum. The shop is run by three women who handmake everything! They sell carved wooden puzzle toys that are so beautiful you may be tempted to not want kids to play with them.
But like every great Italian craft, these puzzles are made to be used. They’re perfect as decor or a toy. They have a big selection of Venetian symbols – a gondola, a casetto (house), St. Mark’s or the Rialto bridge – or typical cute kid things, like animals or sun and moon. They also make beautiful art from painted wood, creating a stain-glass effect. I definitely have my eye on one of those for my house soon!
Before I dig into why this one, a few thoughts on finding great Venetian glass:
Historically, Venetian glass is almost entirely made on the island of Murano. I share way more details in my separate travel guide, but the short version is that historical Venice sent all its glassmakers onto one island. Back when all the buildings were made of wood, this was a safety move. Now, families (and companies) have been making Venetian glass on Murano for centuries!
The bottom line with Venetian glass is that you get what you pay for. So while you can find reasonably priced pieces, they’re never going to be cheap. All of the bits in tourist shops and many of the ones on the main island of Venice are made in China.
If it’s real Venetian glass, you should receive a certificate of authenticity. If they tell you it’s not important or they don’t provide one, it’s not really Venetian glass.
Another aspect of Venetian glass is that there are a ton of different styles. Different families or studios may specialize in different styles – I go more into this in my Murano guide. But the bottom line is, if you don’t love what you see, keep looking!
That being said, depending on where you go, you can find great pieces for reasonable prices. I found several authentic shops (mostly on Fondamente Daniele Manin) that offered beautiful glass animals in the 25-30€ range, or a pitcher for 40-50€.
So my primary advice is to wander on the island of Murano. Don’t be afraid to ask about pieces, how they’re made or what the price point is. Describing what you’re looking for often helps – shop owners know their stock!
The shop that had my favorite pieces so far has been Trasparenze di Murano. It’s actually two small shops, run by a husband and wife, while their friend is the glassblower. They have absolutely gorgeous creations, and if you tell them what you’re looking for, they’ll show you everything that suits your taste!
I knew I wanted some blue or blue-and-clear water glass or stemless wine glasses. Something with a bit of heft, so I wouldn’t be nervous about breaking them. Michele took me around, showing me the positives and negatives of each piece. If I said I did or didn’t like a particular style, he was quick to shape his recommendations to my tastes.
I ended up ordering a custom set of glasses! They offered a stunning set of mixed colors, but I wanted all in blue, and he and his friend custom-made a set for me. The craziest part? They made them for no additional cost! They took about a week to create, and they can ship around the world, so no worries for travelers.
Now, I use these glasses all the time and they’re one my favorite Italian purchases. This is why you should always talk to the shop owner – you never know what they can do for you!
The island of Burano is famous for two things: the gorgeous color houses, and lace!
Historically, it’s more famous for lace. Most of the shops on the island feature a nonna in the corner working on an impossibly detailed piece.
Like Murano, there are different types of stores. A few sell things not even made in the city, but you can usually guess that from the touristy quality of the shop and the cheaper prices. Keep in mind that if these are truly handmade, it’s going to be not cheap!
I have a few favorites for the best shops in Venice when it comes to lace.
La Perla is my favorite well-known lace shop. Recognized across Europe for their lingerie, in Burano they produce everything: tablecloths, doilies, handkerchiefs, baby clothes, and more. Everything is stunning here and I’d love to take home half the store! They also are a great help if you’re looking for a general category of item, like a handkerchief, and can help find the style you like best.
Another shop I live sits only a few doors down. L’Orchidea Di Rosso Giorgia positively breathes family-owned. When I went in looking for a baby gift, the owner pulled everything she had in back to give me every option! And remember, everything is one of a kind: because everything is handmade, the designs typically differ slightly each time. It means whatever you buy is unique to you!
Another shop I love is Emilia Burano. I love this spot for their elegant table settings. They have some truly gorgeous options, with clean lines. not too frilly for my everyday tastes, but still handmade. And machine washable too! This is the shop I have my eye on to buy a tablecloth before we move.
These are the best shops in Venice when it comes to buying memorable souvenirs that don’t break the bank!