Here’s the ultimate guide to shopping in Venice, Italy for the first time traveler. 8 Amazing ideas for delectable local fashion, art, souvenirs and durable food!
Venice, Italy is a heaven for not just tourists, but for anyone who loves shopping. Its picturesque streets are lined with countless shops of souvenirs, apparel, accessories, food and wines, local and international alike. That makes shopping in Venice, Italy, so appealing! And it’s even more awesome to indulge in retail therapy while you get the feeling that you’re not in real life, but in a movie or a postcard! Shopping in Venice becomes a slow-motion dream!
The stuff ain’t just tees with ‘Venezia’ printed on them or gondola key chains, but it’s beautiful and exotic merchandise, a plethora of masks, murano glass jewelry, ceramic, handmade original art and much more, all of which makes up the thousands of years old Venetian culture, a piece of which you’d really want to take back home, and some of which you can’t really find in the outside world, at least not commonly.
I visited Venice not long ago – in the summer of 2014 with my friend. And the reason why shopping for souvenirs there was so fun because it also gave us a reason to walk in the city. By discovering the smaller inner streets, we also found many tiny stores, and got to try local produce, wines and gelato! So the experience of shopping in Venice is much more valuable than the merch itself!
1. Shopping in Venice for Fresh Produce
Venice has some of the rarest views in the world, sunset by the Grand Canal, unmissable Gothic architecture, the breathtaking gondolas floating over the sea-green waters, atop which you find the gondoliers whose songs are famous worldwide. But that’s not all you find on gondolas – some of these gondolas are literally farmer’s markets that sell the freshest vegetables and fruits. Try all sorts of berries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, cranberries et al, and while you’re at it, you’ll find some exotic vegetables that you may not have seen before in your country. Ask the vendor their names, and they’ll tell you in Italian!
2. Shopping in Venice for Wines
And while you’re on the streets checking out all the nice shops and street art and tourist attractions and having the yummiest gelato, go inside some of the local food/convenience stores that have wines for tasting. You’ll find some nice local wines that you can taste for €5 or so.
3. Venice Shopping Ideas: Durable Food
Some of these local grocery stores also have groceries that you can take home for yourself or as gifts, local tricolor pasta, pesto and other pasta sauces, truffle oils, sea-salt, chocolates and herb-mixes are some of the items I love buying.
4. Local Handcrafts: Masks
Masks are an ancient tradition of Venice, and are still widely used for carnivals and operas in Venice, and masquerade parties worldwide. You can find various mask shops all over the island that have every type of mask- from plain and simple to elaborate ones with plumes and fabric, with traditional Venetian damask embroidery. They also have miniature masks that make wonderful souvenirs and decoratives.
5. Venice Souvenirs: Artwork
Italians are known for their art, craft, fashion and attention to detail. And all over Venice, you’ll find local art stores, selling local photography, hand-painted postcards, notepads, tee-shirts, coasters, original paintings, sketches, etc. Here’s a sketch-pad I bought from a tiny store in San Marco that has handmade Venice painting on it. All the art is what makes shopping in Venice so much fun – because Italians are born artists!
6. Shopping in Venice for Apparel
Venice has big brand stores like Prada, Miu Miu, D&G, H&M, GAP, etc. near the Piazza San Marco, but to the seasoned traveller who wants to take back unique items, walk away from S. Marco via Rio de S. Luca, and be lost in the narrow streets of San Polo. Try the local small apparel stores, and you may come across something you love. What’s more, the non-branded stores are cheaper, and you may find something chic and exclusive! My friend and I bought a few dresses from San Polo that everyone absolutely adored!
7. Venetian Jewelry
You absolutely can’t miss all the murano glass jewelry while you’re in Venice, because literally every third shop is full of it. They have bracelets, earrings, necklaces, all breathtaking, and colorful and bright! Make sure you are buying real Murano that has a ‘Murano Made in Italy’ stamp on its back, because there are loads of cheaper fakes in some of those stores.Walk from Venezia Santa Lucia station toward Cannaregio on Rio Tera Lista di Spagna to find countless of these and also lots of bead jewelry and hand-painted ceramic and glass jewelry. Other than those, good jewelry to look for is pieces by local designers like Susanna and Marina Sent. This is the hands-down an idea for the best souvenirs from Venice Italy if you’re shopping for a girl! Here’s all the jewelry I bought:
8. Shopping in Venice for Accessories
Some of the local branded shoe and handbag stores are also worth a visit. This is another thing the shops in Venice Italy are full of. You’ll find trendy leather shoes, and handbags and wallets of all different colors and styles, some of which have beautiful hand-painted patterns on them of flowers and even Venice scenery.
I was wearing:
Neon Orange and Pink Dress: Local store, San Polo, Venice, Italy
Spikey cuff and neon pink necklace: Diva, Pitt St, Sydney, Australia
Turquoise hand-bag: Street-side vendor, Rome
Tortoise shell sunglasses: Ralph Lauren
Flip-flops with Italian table-cloth print: Local store, Rome, Italy
Face powder and Concealer: M.A.C.
Blush: L’Oreal True Match
Eye-liner: Dior Intensite Eclat and Dior Crayon pencil eyeliner
Hope you got a lot of ideas on shopping in Venice, and that you guys enjoy shopping there as much as I did! What souvenirs would you like to buy the most? Comment below! Lemme know!
Shilpa Ahuja a designer and entrepreneur. She is the editor-in-chief of ShilpaAhuja.com, which she founded with the goal of inspiring confidence in the modern working woman through fashion.
Fashion has traditionally been for the rich, white, thin woman. That’s how it evolved over centuries and that’s how it’s been represented in fashion media. But Shilpa believes that with the changing role of women in the society, fashion has changed, too. She believes that fashion is for everyone, regardless of their age, gender, color, body type and background. So she translates runway fashion into easy style advice that one can incorporate into their daily lives.
Shilpa’s work has been published in the University of Fashion blog and Jet Airways magazine. She is also an artist, illustrator and cartoonist. She is also the creator of Audrey O., a comic series that represents the lifestyle of millennial women. She enjoys creative writing and world travel. Her art has been exhibited at Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Aroma Hotel, Chandigarh and been published in Chandigarh Times.
Originally from Chandigarh, Shilpa also has a professional degree in architecture and has worked in interior project management. She is also the author of the book “Designing a Chinese Cultural Center in India”. Shilpa has a Masters in Design Studies degree from Harvard University. For feedback and questions, please email [email protected]