Authentic Venice Souvenirs: My 14 Top Picks & Shopping Guide

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Venice is a city of romance and enchanting canals. It’s a treasure trove of unique souvenirs. Each piece tells a story. Each item captures the city’s heart.

Intrigued? You should be. 

Venice offers a shopping experience like no other. From intricate Murano glass to high quality handmade masks, the best souvenirs are those that embody the city’s artistic heritage.

But here’s the catch. 

Not all Venice souvenirs are created equal. It’s vital to support local artists and artisans. These skilled craftsmen and women create authentic, high-quality products. They pour their heart and soul into each piece.

So, make a difference. Choose handmade goods over mass-produced items. You’ll not only get a genuine piece of Venetian culture, but you’ll also help preserve these traditional crafts.

Ready to start your Venetian shopping adventure? Let’s dive in.

The 14 Best Authentic Venice Souvenirs to Buy 

1 – Handmade Venetian Masks

Authentic Venetian masks are more than just beautiful pieces of art. They are a significant part of Venice’s rich history and culture. 

authentic venice souvenirs ca macana masks

These Venetian masks, often adorned with vibrant colors, intricate designs, and luxurious materials, were traditionally used during the Venice Carnival. They allowed wearers to hide their identities, freeing them from societal norms and expectations.

Today, authentic Venetian masks are highly sought after as souvenirs. They capture the mystery and allure of Venice, making them a perfect memento of your visit. Each mask is unique, handcrafted by skilled artisans who have dedicated their lives to preserving this traditional art form.

authentic venice souvenirs carnival masks

When shopping for Venetian masks in Venice, it’s essential to look for shops that sell authentic, handmade masks. One such place is the shop of Paolo Brandolisio, located in the quiet Campo San Barnaba. Here, you can find a wide range of masks, each meticulously crafted using traditional techniques.

Another place to buy authentic masks is the Ca’ Macana shop, famous for its high-quality handmade mask designs. This shop has been creating masks for the Venice Carnival for over 30 years and even provided masks for the movie “Eyes Wide Shut.”

You can even make your own handmade mask at Ca’ Macana for a one-of-a-kind experience in Venice.

2 – Murano Glass

Murano glass, a name that resonates with art, history, and craftsmanship, is one of the most famous exports of Venice. 

what to buy in venice - murano glass

Originating from the small island of Murano in the Venetian Lagoon, this glass-making technique dates back to the 7th century. The island became the center of glassmaking in the 13th century when the Venetian Republic, fearing fire might devastate the city’s mostly wooden buildings, ordered all glassmakers to move their foundries to Murano. (Check out my article on what to do in Murano here)

Murano glass is renowned for its vibrant colors, intricate designs, and the exceptional skill required to create each piece. 

what to buy in venice - glass artisan creations

From delicate glass beads to large sculptures, each Murano glass piece is a testament to the artistry and skill of its maker. The genuine Murano glass is not just a decorative item; it’s a piece of history, a slice of Venetian culture, and a symbol of a centuries-old tradition of craftsmanship.

When it comes to buying authentic Murano glass products, it’s essential to know where to look. 

While many shops in Venice sell glass beads and jewelry, not all of them offer genuine Murano glass. Look for the “Vetro Artistico Murano” trademark, which guarantees that the piece is made using traditional Murano glass-making techniques. 

what to buy in venice - authentic glass

You can buy Murano glass in shops on the island of Murano itself or in certified shops across Venice. Otherwise, be very discerning which souvenir shops you go to get authentic glass. Stay away from the ones selling a little bit of everything and stick to ones only selling glass products with the trademark. Remember, each genuine Murano glass piece is unique, handcrafted, and, most importantly, a timeless souvenir from Venice.

You can also make your own souvenir by taking a glass making class on the island. My recommendation is to go through the Wave Glass Factory as the experience doesn’t feel as touristy as some of the others around. You can click this link to learn more about it.

3 – Burano Lace

Just as Murano is world famous for its glass, the island of Burano is famous for its exquisite lace. Burano lace, or “Merletto di Burano,” is a form of needle lace that dates back to the 16th century. 

It’s said that the women of Burano started making lace while waiting for their husbands, who were fishermen, to return from the sea. Over time, this pastime evolved into a craft that’s now synonymous with the island.

Handmade Burano lace is known for its intricate patterns and exceptional quality. Each piece requires a high level of skill, patience, and dedication. From tablecloths and clothing to decorative items, Burano lace adds a touch of elegance and sophistication.

If you’re looking to buy authentic Burano lace, the best place to start is the island of Burano itself. Here, you can visit the Lace Museum to learn about the history of lace-making and see some incredible examples of this craft. 

Afterward, explore the local shops where you can buy handmade lace products. Look for items accompanied by a certificate of authenticity, which guarantees that the lace is handmade in Burano.

4 – Gondolier Hats

Gondolier hats are a significant part of the traditional clothing of a gondolier in Venice, Italy. These hats are not just a fashion statement but also serve a practical purpose by protecting the gondoliers from the strong Italian sun. 

emilio ceccato gondolier clothing - best souvenirs in venice

The gondolier’s hat is a straw hat that the gondolier will wear on a gondola ride. They are Venice souvenirs that you won’t find anywhere else, and it’s a symbol of Venice’s rich cultural heritage and the city’s iconic gondolas.

If you’re looking for an authentic gondolier hat and other traditional Venice souvenirs, you can head to Emilio Ceccato, which is the official supplier and sponsor of the Venice Gondolier Association – the Associazione Gondolieri di Venezia. 

The quality of these hats comes at a higher price, with an authentic gondolier hat costing €150. If you don’t want to spend that much, the shop also stocks smaller gifts like notepads, and you can even buy a striped gondolier’s t-shirt to remember your visit to Venice.

5 – Furlan Gondolier Slippers

Gondolier Slippers are a and stylish souvenir to take home from Venice. These traditional Venetian shoes, also known as “furlane” or “friulane”, were originally worn by gondoliers to prevent slipping on the wet surfaces of their boats and to protect the delicate finishes of the gondolas. Today, they have become a fashion statement, loved for their comfort, practicality, and distinctive Venetian style.

what to buy in venice furlan gondolier slippers

The slippers are handmade with a velvet or brocade upper and a rubber sole, often made from recycled bicycle tires. They come in a variety of vibrant colors and patterns, reflecting the lively spirit of Venice.

To buy authentic Furlan Gondolier Slippers, head to Piedàterre, located in the heart of Venice, in the San Marco district. This shop is renowned for its high-quality, handmade furlane. The slippers are available in a wide range of sizes, colors, and designs, so you’re sure to find a pair that suits your style.

Another great place to buy these slippers is Emilio Ceccato, the official purveyor for Venice’s Gondola Association. Here, you can also find a variety of other authentic Venetian souvenirs, including the iconic gondolier’s hats.

6 – Marble Printed Paper

Marble printed paper, also known as marbled paper, is a form of art that originated from the Far East. The art of paper marbling involves creating beautiful patterns of colors in a liquid, then blotting a piece of paper on top to transfer the color. Marbled paper is known as Ebru in Turkey, where paper-marbling maestro Alberto Valese learned his craft.

marbled paper souvenirs in venice

Alberto Valese’s shop in the San Marco district of Venice is filled with his exquisite marbled paper creations, which you can buy in the form of wrapping paper, cards, notebooks, and more. Smaller marbled paper items and other stationery items cost just a few euros, so you don’t need to worry about splashing out on these gorgeous Venice souvenirs!

7 – Door Knockers

Venetian door knockers are a unique and sophisticated souvenir that you can bring home from your trip to Venice. These art relics of the Italian Middle Ages and Renaissance are usually made of steel, brass, or copper and perfectly complement many of Venice’s medieval buildings. 

Venice door knockers range from simple designs, where the striker is a simple metal ring, to ornate designs like masks, allegorical figures, lions, lyres, and serpentine creatures. 

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.

8 – Leather Handbags

Italy is famed for its premium leather products, so be sure to treat yourself to a new Italian 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.

9 – Second-Hand Books

Venice is a city that cherishes its history, and this is evident in its thriving scene of antique books. 

For bibliophiles, the city offers a unique opportunity to delve into the past through the pages of ancient books. These books are not just texts but living relics that have survived the passage of time, complete in every aspect of their original charm. They represent a blend of printing, paper, binding, and aroma that is hard to find in modern books.

One of the leading antiquarian bookshops in Venice is Linea d’Acqua. Specializing in antique books, first editions, maps, and views of Venice, especially by Venetian old masters, this shop is a treasure trove for book lovers. 

Located in the San Marco district, Linea d’Acqua offers a wide range of books that capture the essence of Venice and its rich history.

what to buy in venice second hand books

Another fantastic bookstore to peruse is the Libreria Acqua Alta Bookstore. Although you may not find many second hand books, you will enjoy an authentic Venetian experience when shopping for books there. 

10 – Wooden Accessories from an Oar-Maker

Venice’s rich maritime history is reflected in its tradition of oar-making. The city’s oar-makers, known as “remer”, have been crafting oars for Venice’s iconic gondolas for centuries. 

However, their skills are not limited to oar-making. Many remer also create a variety of wooden accessories, ranging from miniature gondolas to intricate wooden artwork.

One such place to find these unique wooden accessories is at the workshop of Piero Dri, known as “Il Forcolaio Matto”. Located in the Cannaregio district of Venice, this workshop is a place where art and craftsmanship meet. Piero Dri, a master craftsman, revives the old Venetian skills in his workshop and keeps alive the traditions of a city unique in the world.

Visiting Il Forcolaio Matto, you can watch Piero at work, see the raw materials transformed into beautiful objects such as cutting boards, and even book a demonstration to learn the secrets of his craft.

Whether you choose a small toy or a detailed model of a gondola, you’re not just buying souvenirs from Venice but a piece of Venetian craftsmanship. And by doing so, you’re helping to keep these ancient skills alive.

Please note that the workshop is open from Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 1 pm and from 3 pm to 6 pm plus Saturday from 9:30 to 12:30. It’s recommended to contact them in advance to ensure they’re open and to arrange a demonstration if desired.

11 – Venetian Fabric

Venice is renowned for its luxury fabrics and textiles, which are often used in high fashion and furnishing. These fabrics, whether plain or gloriously patterned, are a testament to the city’s Venetian style and craftsmanship. Venetian silks and velvets are particularly well-known, and the city is also famous for its sumptuous brocades and tapestries.

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.

12 – Antiques 

Venice, a city steeped in history and culture, is a treasure trove for antique enthusiasts. The city’s antique shops are nestled in its narrow, cobbled alleys, each one offering a unique selection of items that reflect the rich history of Venice. From large-scale furniture pieces to eclectic bric-a-brac, there’s a little something for everyone.

In the vicinity of San Maurizio Square in San Marco and in the San Barnaba district of Dorsoduro, you’ll find a concentration of these antique stores. One highly recommended shop is Antichità al Ghetto in the Jewish ghetto of Cannaregio, which caters to the most avid of collectors. 

antiques from jewish ghetto

Whether you’re searching for a unique souvenir or a valuable addition to your collection, the antique shops of Venice offer a shopping experience like no other.

13 – Food & Drink Souvenirs

Buranelli or Baicoli biscuits are traditional Venetian cookies that originated from the island of Burano. Known for their durability and nutritious value, these yellow butter cookies were originally created as a source of energy for local Venetian sailors out at sea for long periods. 

cibo gastronomy and salumeria for food souvenirs in venice

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. This typical Venetian biscuit can be 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. If you can’t make it to Burano, then try at Majer on Venice proper. They have locations all throughout the city. 

Grappa is a distinctive Italian-made distilled liquor 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 in Venice sell several varieties of grappa and grappa-based liqueurs. This makes for a great souvenir for those who appreciate a good spirit.

14 – Wooden Toys

Venice is a city that cherishes its artisanal traditions, and this is evident in the charming carved and painted wooden objects and toys that can be found in various workshops around the city. 

These toys, which range from musical instruments to clocks and palace facades, are entirely hand-cut and make great Venice souvenirs for kids or those young at heart.

One of the places you should definitely check out is Signor Blum on San Barnaba Square in Dorsoduro. 

This little workshop is filled with delightful wooden objects that are sure to captivate your imagination. Another place to visit is 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.

What Venice Souvenirs Not to Buy

While Venice is a treasure trove of unique and authentic souvenirs, it’s also a city that’s no stranger to the typical “touristy” trinkets that are often not worth your time or money. These Venice souvenirs, while seemingly attractive, are often mass-produced and lack the quality and authenticity of the genuine article.

One of the most common souvenirs in Venice you’ll see are cheap, plastic gondolas or keychains with the word “Venice” printed on them. 

what not to buy in venice - mass produced trinkets

While these might seem like a quick and easy souvenir to grab, they’re often made outside of Italy and lack any real connection to the city. You might come across kiosks selling T-shirts with generic images of gondolas or the Rialto Bridge. These items are often overpriced and not authentic Venice souvenirs.

Another item to be wary of is counterfeit Murano glass. True Murano glass is made on the island of Murano and is a product of centuries-old techniques. Counterfeit items, however, are often made in other countries and sold as “Murano” to unsuspecting tourists. Always look for the Vetro Artistico Murano trademark, which guarantees the origin and quality of the glass.

To avoid these tourist traps, it’s best to steer clear of stalls selling souvenirs near major sites like St. Mark’s Square or the Rialto Bridge. These places often sell items at a higher price and the quality is usually not as good. Instead, venture into the less crowded areas of the city where you’ll find local artisans and shops selling authentic Venetian souvenirs. Remember, the best souvenirs from Venice are those that are handcrafted and unique to the city’s rich history and culture.

FAQ About Souvenirs from Venice

Do you bargain in Venice?

Haggling is not really something you do in Venice when you are buying authentic souvenirs from the artisans themselves. However, when you are buying multiple items in a souvenir shop then you might strike a deal, although I recommend not shopping at those places.

What are the best streets to shop in Venice?

If you are looking for high fashion and luxury brands then head to Salizada San Moisè and Calle Larga XXII Marzo. There you’ll find Prada, Gucci, Armani and more.

Are there street markets in Venice?

There are the Rialto Markets that operate almost every day where you can buy fresh food (Check out my article for opening hours and more information.) In addition, you can check out the Mercato dell’Altro Economia which sells organic foods, plus ethically sourced clothing every Thursday from 10:30 to 6:30.
Mercatino dell’Antiquariato is a flea market that only happens every other month and lasts 3 days. Check out this link for more info.

Wrapping It Up

Venice is a city that captivates the senses, and taking home a piece of its unique culture is a beautiful gift to yourself or your loved ones. From the traditional gondolier’s hat to the handmade lace of Burano, the best souvenirs from Venice are those that encapsulate the city’s rich history and artisanal spirit. 

As you wander through the city’s narrow alleys and across its iconic bridges, remember to look beyond the typical touristy trinkets. 

Instead, seek out authentic Venetian souvenirs that truly represent the city’s unique charm and character. 

Sal Presti

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