The Queen of the Adriatic is brimming with gondolas, kayaks and vaporetto (water bus) that explore the canals and waterways with a splendid backdrop of the architecture. Venice fondly fabled as ‘The Floating City’ is exclusively popular for artisan crafts being produced here for millennia: the intricate lace and linen designs from Burano, the glassware from Murano and the Carnevale cartapesta (papier-mâché) masks that are available in numerous botteghe across the city.
A blend of knick-knack stores and chic boutiques line the famous chains of shopping streets known as Le Mercerie. These streets run north from Piazza San Marco to the Rialto Bridge. Upscale boutiques and exclusive gift galleries flock the wide street of Calle Larga XXII Marzot beginning west of Piazza San Marco and leading to the busy crossroads of Campo Santo Stefano over the Accademia Bridge.
Antiques Fair or Mercatino dell'Antiquariato is organized thrice a year in Campo San Maurizio between Campo Santo Stefano and Piazza San Marco. The dates are mostly different for the 3-day weekend but usually organized on the first weekend of April, the weekend in mid-September and the weekend before Christmas. One can find a magnificent sculpture made with Murano glass as well as eccentric dust collectors. If you come on the first day, you can also find Murano candy dishes that date back to 1950s, vintage Italian posters advertising regattas (boat races), Venetian-pearl glass beads or antique postcards of Venice as old as 1830.
The Murano Art Shop located at San Marco 1232 is an artistic experience where the wall space of the small shop, every inch of it, adorns the crafts of the city’s creative artists. Contemporary yet timeless, with a touch of the magical and romantic history of Venice makes for a whimsical collection of costume jewelry, music boxes, masks and puppets etc.
Visit the Bambole di Trilly at Castello 4974 in the direction of Church of San Zaccaria for an exclusive handmade wardrobe of Venetian fabrics after you have explored the gift galleries brimming with bisque-faced dolls adorning headdresses and pinafores.
Giacomo Rizzo, famous for packaged pasta products is located near a Coin department store at Cannaregio 5778. Various shapes of pasta such as colorful carnival hats and gondolas are available in squash, spinach and beet flavors.
To find a cure for your sweet tooth ailments, head to Pasticceria Marchini di VIO Giancarlo in the opposite direction at San Marco 676 where prepackaged cookies in traditional flavors like S-shaped buranelli, cornmeal raisin zaleti and baicoli are available.
Don’t forget the acclaimed glass artists, Venini located at San Marco 314 with its headquarters at Fondamenta Vetrai 50. It is one of the most innovative glass manufacturers since 1921. Classic glass vases, decanters, chandeliers, led lamps and architectural lights with intricate designs are quite stunning. Venini also designs the glass objects d'art for Versace.
Marco Polo at San Marco 1644 is another place to check out small gift ideas of glassware including paperweights, glass-topped medicine boxes and candy dishes. The Venetian Pearls or Glass beads and exquisite baubles are available in abundance at Anticlea at Castello 4719A.
Antichità Zaggia located at Dorsoduro 1195 offers high quality glass jewelry and genuine antique jewelry. Esperienze jewelers at Cannaregio 326B combine their jewelry making techniques with glass-blowing traditions to create exquisite jewelry including necklaces and pins.
Leather & Shoes
Florence, Italy is known for its leather goods. However, Venice has numerous small shoe factories near Brenta canal which export shoes across the world. The refined shoe stores such as Mori e Bozzi are located at Cannaregio 2367, Bruno Magli at San Marco 1302 (Calle dell'Ascensione) and another store called Rolando Segalin at San Marco 4365 that features curly-toed shoes in various colors and shapes. The shoes are used for Carnevale costumes.
Linens & Lace
Frette located at San Marco 2070A is renowned for bedclothes, classy linens and silk jammies. The linens can also be made to order.
Lace is the claim to fame for the island of Burano where hand-tatted designs were taught at the Scuola dei Merletti School until 1970 which was later transformed into a museum, Museo Del Merletto in 1981. It was reopened in 2011 after restoration. The museum is located at Piazza Galuppi.
Considering the abundance of mask botteghe, hunting the best of mask manufacturers in Venice is a herculean task. High quality theatrical masks are available at La Bottega dei Mascareri which is situated at the northern end of the Rialto Bridge amid the tourist booths in San Polo 80.
Il Canovaccio located at Castello 5369-70 provided costumes and masks for the movie Eyes Wide Shut starring Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise.
Biblos, with shops in San Marco at 221, 739 and 2087 offers a wide variety of marbleized paper, fountain pens, leather-bound blank books, journals, watercolor etchings and enamel pill boxes.