The Best Shopping in Venice
Murano glass and Venetian masks are two of La Serenissima’s classic souvenirs, though the quality of craftsmanship can really vary. Let us point you to reliably great sources for these products as well as artisanal jewelry, rare books, modern perfumes, and handmade clothing.
Wonderful little bookstores are scattered all over Venice and Libraria Acqua Alta (Bookstore of High Water) is one of these hidden gems. Named and themed around the fact that Venice’s floods are a peril to books, all of the store’s stock is placed in floatable receptacles, including a full-sized gondola. The store owner himself has been known to float somewhere above reality; he’s often seen in costume among his precious tomes.
Ponte della Libertà
Dale Chihuly learned to blow glass at Venini Glassmakers on Murano. That alone should be enough to send you to the island (a 45-minute waterbus ride from San Marco) for a visit to Venini. The factory has been making glass since the 1920s but glassmaking has been done on Murano since the 13th century. Remember, the real stuff isn’t cheap. And the cheap stuff (the glass you see in the shops around San Marco) probably isn’t real Murano glass.
Campo San Moisè, 1390/A, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
Maria e Susanna Sent has several shops where they sell their glass jewelry, the cutest one of them all just off the Ponte San Moisè in San Marco. This boutique is about as big as a broom closet, and that is certainly part of its charm. The real impact, though, comes from the jewelry this artistic duo started creating on the island of Murano back in 1993. Their line of mostly necklaces and bracelets is made in a unique process that creates murrine and filigree glass and plates in glass fusion. They also have shops in Murano and in Dorsoduro near the Peggy Guggenheim Museum.
Rialto Bridge, Ramo del Fontego dei Tedeschi, 30100 Venezia VE, Italy
What’s old is new again at Venice‘s most buzzed-about shopping destination: a department store opened in 2017 in a building dating to the 1500s. An even earlier iteration, a 13th-century trading hall for German (“tedeschi”) merchants, went up in flames. It’s a gorgeous space to see—and Instagram—even if you’re not in the market for a Gucci handbag or Bottega Veneta sunglasses. There’s a small food hall that features local products, including Burano lace, and the family behind Venice’s longstanding Quadri provides the food at a café in the central atrium. Don’t leave without making your way up to the roof for sweeping views of the Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge.
Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy
Near the base of the landmark Rialto Bridge, the historic Rialto Market is well worth a wander. Seek it out in the early morning when it provides an authentic local experience (and awesome social-media ops), with fishmongers hawking their fresh seafood catches and local produce merchants setting out seasonal fruits and vegetables. When you’ve finished exploring, go grab breakfast and a strong coffee at one of the nearby trattorias. If you’re a real foodie, consider exploring Rialto Market with a local guide who can delve into the history and also introduce you to Venice street food.
San Marco 1295, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
Since opening its doors in 1866, the Venice-based jewelers, Atillio Codognato, have been turning out exceptional, rings, bracelets, and earrings known the world over. Their shop is located just off San Marco and has been a favorite haunt of the likes of Coco Chanel, Elizabeth Taylor, and Nicole Kidman. Even if you can’t afford one of their pieces, it’s nice to pop into the shop anyway just to view their collections, mostly inspired by the 15th-century Venetian artist, Carpaccio, and the 18th-century painter, Pietro Longhi. The fourth-generation owner, Attilio Codognato, is a jovial and curious Venetian. His shop is small and cozy, and when you’re invited in, you find that he is as well versed in contemporary art—his private collection includes works by Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Roy Lichtenstein—as he is in artisan jewelry. If you’re interested in Venetian artisans, or jewelry in general, A. Codognato is an excellent introduction to the Venetian influence on jewelry.
2671 Campo San Maurizio, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
If you’re in the market for a handcrafted handbag, then head to Silvano Arnaldo and Massimiliano Battois’s storefront just off Campo San Luca. The Venetian designers’ fantastic leather creations are handmade by local artisans and showcased on Milan’s catwalks each year. The bags offer modern takes on early 20th-century travel bags and come in a range of bold colors. Although best known for its handbags, the Venice boutique also sells a womenswear line that focuses on deconstructed clothes not meant to be form-fitting. If you’re in town during January and July when the sales are going on, you’ll find big discounts.
943 Calle Fiubera, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
To dress like the gondoliers you’ll need to pick up a pair of genuine friulane slippers at Gianni Dittura, one of the few remaining purveyors of the original footwear in Venice. Friulanes (or furlanes) were born of frugality in the 19th century, when the women of poor families in the Friuli countryside began hand-stitching cast-off fabric scraps to old bicycle tires to make shoes for their families. The slippers eventually made their way to Venice, where gondoliers snapped them up because they were cheap, comfortable, and didn’t scratch the paint on their boats. But as the years passed, friulanes inevitably went from lowly upcycled footwear to cult object and luxury product coveted by tourists. Today Gianni Dittura has two Venice shops, and you’ll find every color and size of the original velvet and rubber shoes, as well as more chic and contemporary winter models by in-house designer Laura Biagiotti.
4340 San Marco
“Venetian pearls” is what some people call the blown glass beads you’ll find in Venice. While the quality of some of them can be disappointing, Atmosfera Veneziana has a great selection of high-quality Venetian glass beads, as well as other souvenirs like mirrors and jewelry. We love the goblets with the dolphins on the stem; just make sure to have them wrapped carefully as this glass is notoriously delicate.
S. Marco, 3457, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
This vibrant and friendly shop, just around the corner from Piazza San Marco, offers an eclectic mix of San Marco flags in every size, Murano glass jewelry, wax stamps, and colorful art pigments.
1810 Calle Fuseri
It has been said that when Daniel Day Lewis decided to learn to be a shoemaker (yes, he did do that), he learned his craft with this Venetian master. Walk in and you’ll enter an old-fashioned cobbler’s shop with incredible footwear everywhere you look. These are expensive custom-made shoes, but you’ll feel like you’re wearing art.
805, 30133 Venezia VE, Italy
Fortuny fabrics, with their iridescent, waterlike shimmer, were born here in Venice at the Giudecca factory. You can’t visit the factory (trade secrets, you know) but the Fortuny showroom is open to the public. Along with fabrics for sale, you can also view some of Mario Fortuny’s art as well as mementos of the iconic process that created such tactile velvets and silks.
38 Calle Lion
Mario Fortuny was a great maker of silks and velvets. His special formula for crinkling and dying silks and weighting them with glass (creating a dress called the “Delphos”) has never been equaled. The dress was a favorite of dancer Isadora Duncan and actress Eleanora Duse, both lovers of Venice. For those that aren’t able to splurge on antique Delphos dresses and Fortuny interior designs, the same technique and style is on offer at Venetia Studium. Their jewel-like range of silk scarves are a great alternative to paying a fortune for the Fortuny fabric process and a wonderful souvenir of the sumptous sensuality of Venice.
Dorsoduro, 1214, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy
This place was one of those shops you stumble upon, then wish you could spend the day. Not only did the Toletta have a really good selection of English books—from classics (including Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice, of course) and recent novels to a healthy selection of children’s titles to keep my companion happy—but the wealth of maps and guides made it feel like a one-stop shop for learning about Venice. Then there were the staff, who happily engaged with us in our broken Italian and helped us with our grammar. It’s hard to feel encouraged to speak Italian in Venice, where the locals’ English is so good, but this was a good place to start.
Retail therapy takes on new significance at this nonprofit, where the vintage-inspired dresses, jackets, and bags are designed and handmade by the inmates of the women’s prison on Giudecca island as part of a skills training program. Fortuny and Bevilacqua donate some of the more sumptuous fabrics, and colors tend to be bold and cheery.