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The best souvenir shops in Venice

Whether you’re after a glass miniature, an artisanal mask or some swanky threads woven by the local prison’s inmates, make sure you get the real deal with our shopping guide

Stock up for the Carnevale at Tragicomica © Olivia Rutherford

Where to shop in Venice

Ca’ Macana sell masks for the stage and screen

Glass and masks are the two things visitors to Venice feel they can’t leave without. But more often than not, you’ll end up being given the hard sell on Asian-produced tat. In both cases, you’ll know when you’ve found the real thing because it will cost a whole lot more. Souvenir shops in Venice are a dime a dozen, but authentic emporia are scarce.

Vittorio Costantini’s intricate glass insects and sea creatures, handmade in his tiny workshop amid toppling piles of natural history books, are exceptional examples of lamp-worked Venetian glass; over on the glass-makers’ island of Murano, Davide Penso’s exquisite jewellery is the real McCoy, unlike much of what’s on display in the tourist-packed showrooms.

For masks, seek out Ca’ Macana (maker of masks for stage and screen), Tragicomica or Papier Maché, where traditional methods are used to produce both classic and more inventive models.

Alternatively, think outside the box for your souvenirs. Gilberto Penzo makes superb wooden DIY models of Venetian craft, from gondolas to vaporetti, to keep your holiday memories afloat. And if you don’t feel you need one of Saverio Pastor’s forcole (that very distinctive rowlock used by gondoliers), then one of his books on Venetian craft might grab you.

In case the international top-dollar fashion boutiques in the streets to the west of San Marco don’t appeal, it’s worth checking out the purely local garments stitched by the ladies in Venice’s women’s prison: their beautifully made retro dresses, skirts and coats can be purchased at Banco Lotto N°10. Go the whole Venetian hog with a tabarro, that sweeping black woollen cloak worn by 18th-century gentlemen in many a tableau in galleries around town, now revived by Monica Daniele – who will also do you a three-cornered Venetian hat. Or grab some über-comfy furlane, the slip-on shoes worn by gondoliers, from Piedaterre by the Rialto.

Venue details

Banco Lotto N°10 Castello 3478B, salizada Sant’Antonin, 041 522 1439.
Ca’ Macana Dorsoduro 3172, calle delle Botteghe, 041 277 6142.
Davide Penso Riva Longa 48, 041 527 4634.
Gilberto Penzo San Polo 2681, calle II dei Saoneri, 
041 719 372.
Monica Daniele San Polo 2235, calle Scaleter, 041 524 6242.
Papier Maché Castello 5174B, calle lunga Santa Maria Formosa, 041 522 9995.
Piedaterre San Polo 60, sottoportego degli Orafi, 041 528 5513.
Saverio Pastor Dorsoduro 341, fondamenta Soranzo de la Fornace, 041 522 5699.
Tragicomica San Polo 2800, calle dei Nomboli, 041 721 102.
Vittorio Costantini Cannaregio 5311, calle del Fumo, 041 522 2265.


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