15 Distinctively Italian Things to Buy in Venice
1. Murano Glass
Observing Murano glass in the making is as fascinating a process as enjoying its beauty ready-made. The process of manufacturing is far cry from mass production. It starts by workers melting two or more pieces of different glass. Oftentimes, some precious materials, such as gold or silver, are also added. The results are marvelous objects: animals, lamps, candlesticks, jewelry, cups, vases, etc. - practically of any color and size. Each one of these items is really unique.
Surely, there is no need to make a trip to Murano to buy Murano glass, as it can be done in the city as well. But beware! Some shops, especially the ones in the areas frequented by tourists, offer "Murano glass" produced in China or Taiwan.
If you want to be sure that you are buying a real thing, visit Cenedese, reputedly the best store for Murano glass in Venice. It is situated in the most popular area of the city, San Marco Square ("Piazza San Marco"), at Number 44. The shop is more than 60 years old and its owner is a proud upholder of a long family tradition of manufacturing and selling Murano glass. The prices range from 30 EUR up to 30,000 EUR. The shop is open daily, from 9:00 to 19:00, and is closed on Sundays.
Address: San Marco Square ("Piazza San Marco"), at Number 44.
End of Mar-end of Nov: Daily from 9:00 to 18:00 hrs.
Dec-end of Mar: from Mon to Sat, from 9:00 to 19:00 hrs.
2. Burano Lace
Although Burano is very much worth a visit, as such, there is no need to make a journey to the island solely to buy wonderful small curtains, table-clothes, serviettes or other lace items. You can do it in Venice, too. But beware! Some shops in Venice offer "Burano Lace" that is actually manufactured in China or Taiwan. To make sure you're buying a real thing, i.e. made on Burano, visit the famous Il Merletto shop, situated very close to San Marco Square (Sotoportego del Cavalletto, Piazza San Marco 95). The store maintains direct ties with the Scuola del Merletto in Burano and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The prices range from 3 EUR up to more than 400 EUR apiece.
Address: Sotoportego del Cavalletto, Piazza San Marco 95.
Daily from 10:00 to 17:00 hrs.
If you want to buy a real Venetian mask, visit the Tragicomica shop near Rialto Bridge, at San Polo, Calle dei Nomboli 2800. The shop sits close to the Vaporetto Station "San Toma" and is open Monday through Saturday, from 10 to 19 hrs. The prices range from 20 EUR and up to 2000 EUR per mask. You will also find wonderful hand-made Venetian costumes there. And if you have enough time, you can even learn how to make the wonderful Venetian masks yourself!
Address: San Polo, Calle dei Nomboli 2800.
Mon - Sat from 10:00 to 19:00 hrs.
Rubelli export their fabrics to over 50 countries. Rubelli Venezia is also a decoration firm, decorating rooms in private homes, palaces and famous opera houses, such as the Fenice in Venice. The manufacturing of these textiles is highly complicated and absolutely unique a process. Visiting the Rubelli showroom is an absolutely romantic event because it is located in a palace, the Palazzo Corner Spinelli. To get there, you can take a waterbus, the so-called Vaporetto, and get off at the San Angelo station, which is two stops behind Rialto Bridge. The Palazzo Corner Spinelli is situated directly at the Grand Canal. Entering the showroom, you can have a look at the marvelous Rubelli fabrics being made against the wonderful view of the Grand Canal with its gondolas, the Rialto Bridge, and the nearby palaces. In the same building, you will find a Rubelli shop as well. Prices range from about 40 Euro for a pillow; depending on one's personal preferences, of course, they may be higher (practically no limit).
The best available option is to buy doorknockers produced by the Venetian foundry, called Fonderia Artistica Valese. This foundry has been in business since 1913 and is quite famous for its produce. Their showroom and shop is situated at Calle Fiubera 793, the San Marco district. There, you can also buy many other products, including reproductions of some of the most famous buildings and monuments of Venice. The prices for a doorknocker vary from 60 EUR up to 250 EUR apiece.
6. Handmade Wooden Puzzles
The shop is situated between two of the most beautiful places in Venice, Campo San Barnaba and Campo San Margherita. The address is: Campo San Barnaba, Dorsoduro 2840. It is open daily from 10:00 to 19:00 hrs. The prices for a wooden puzzle range from 20 EUR up to 70 EUR. There, you can also buy some smaller wooden pieces (not puzzles), like gondolas, miniature Venetian houses, fish, or even frogs, for about 8 EUR apiece.
Address: Campo San Barnaba, Dorsoduro 2840.
Daily from 10:00 to 19:00 hrs.
A Bellini consists of peaches and Prosecco (Italian version of Champagne). The peaches are squeezed and the juice is mixed with Prosecco. The glasses in which the Bellini is served have to be very cold. For the typical Venetian Bellini only white peaches are used. In older times, there was one employee at Harry's Bar who's only job was to squeeze peaches for the cocktail. One can say that Bellini is a kind of synonym for Harry's Bar itself and that Harry's Bar, in turn, is a synonym for Venice. No wonder that Bellini is very popular as a gift and a greeting from Venice. Obviously, you can't just take a glass of Bellini home, so the only workable solution is to buy a whole bottle, available at many shops around the Rialto Bridge. The price of one bottle of Bellini is about 10 EUR.
8. Handmade Shoes
However, if you want to get yourself some true state-of-the-art footwear, visit Giovanna Zanella's shop, run by Venice's most renowned shoe-maker. The shop is situated some 200 meters away from the Rialto Bridge at Calle Carminati, San Lio 5641, and is open from 9.30 am–1 pm and 3 pm–7 pm; closed on Sundays. Giovanna Zanella creates footwear for both men and women, and not only classical designs; she's known for mixing tradition and modernism to create truly unique items. She also uses and combines various materials - fabrics, leather and plastics. It's no wonder, that many so-called VIPs (and not only from Venice) frequent her store. The prices start from 500 EUR and go up to 1500 EUR a pair, depending on the customer's special demands.
The shop's name is "Giacomo Rizzo", and they are located at Salizzada di San Giovanni Crisostomo, Cannaregio 5778, which is one of the most beautiful parts of Venice and a major shopping destination. The Giacomo Rizo shop is open daily from 10.00 to 18.30 (except Sundays). The prices range between about 2 EUR and up to 8 EUR, depending on the type of pasta you like.
10. Gondolier's Hat
For authentic Venetian product, visit the shop of Emilio Ceccato, specialized in gondolier's outfits. It is situated very close to the Rialto Bridge (address: "Sotoportego di Rialto"). Many Venetian gondoliers shop there - not only for the hats, but also, for example, for those typical sweaters with crosswise stripes. The price of a hat is 27 EUR. The shop is open daily (except Sundays) from 9.30 to 18.00.
11. Forcola (Gondola Rowlock)
An oar holder is a wonderful gift, and is a real piece of art. You can buy one at the workshop of Paolo Brandolisio, located at Corte Rotta 4725. Looking inside the workshop is a treat in its own right. Paolo Brandilisio creates each forcola by hand, carving out of a single block of wood (usually walnut, cherry or pear wood). The minimum price of a handmade forcola is 400 EUR - it can be higher, subject to special demands on the wood or size. Alternatively, you can buy a replica forcola, about one-third of the real size, for about 150 EUR.
Address: Corte Rotta 4725.
Mon - Fri from 10:00 to 18:00 hrs.
12. Handmade Boats and Ships
The shop is a true haven for anyone passionate about maritime history in general and Venetian shipbuilding in particular. The shop offers not only ready-made models, but also kits for building some models (e.g. Venetian gondolas) yourself. One such kit - for a 50-cm long gondola, scale 1:20 - contains 42 pieces. The shop is situated at San Polo, Calle II dei Saoneri 2681, just about 300 meters away from the famous Campo San Margherita. If you go there by water-bus, get off at the San Toma stop. Prices start at about 35 EUR for a gondola kit. For bigger models, which are very detailed, you may have to pay up to several hundred Euros.
13. Il Mondo in Miniatura - Miniature Venice
There are several shops around San Marco Square where you can buy these objects. One of them is very close to the square, at San Marco 415; the name of the shop is "Marco Francalli". It is open daily from 9 to 19.00 hrs. One of the cheapest objects they offer is a Venetian lantern, costing about 39 EUR, and the prices go up to several hundred Euros for greater objects like palaces, churches, street buildings, etc. Other shops, offering similar objects, include:
Amelio Gastaldi, San Marco 847
Flavio Gastaldi, San Marco 219
Francesco Sutto, San Marco 629.
Address: San Marco 415.
Daily from 9:00 to 19.00 hrs.
The world-famous philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche enjoyed these biscuits very much during his stay in Venice, about 160 years ago.
The biscuits can be found at major groceries, including the one not far away from the Rialto Bridge, called "Dai Fioi". The address is San Marco 3724. The store is open daily from 10.00 to 18.30 (except Sunday). The price of a box of baicoli is about 15 EUR.
Address: San Marco 3724.
Mon - Sat from 10:00 to 18:30 hrs.
15. Handmade Paper
The "Legatoria Piazzesi“ has been open since 1851, situated in the San Marco district, at Campiello della Feltrina 2511/C, just about 300 meters away from the famous Gallerie dell'Academia. Here you can even have a look at how mottled paper is made, as well as buy nearly everything made from it. Prices range from less than 1 EUR for a greeting card up to 2500 EUR for a marvelous mottled paper curtain. The shop gets open only on request - you must send an SMS to 0039-3478952802, or a fax to 0039-415221202, or e-mail to email@example.com.
The Arte in Carta shop is situated about 500 meters from the Rialto Bridge (address: Calle dei Cristi 1731). Here you can buy boxes, panels, accessories, as well as handbags made of mottled paper – all unique, handmade and waterproof. On top of that, you will have the opportunity to watch the owner (a young lady) creating her products before your very eyes. The price for a mottled paper handbag is 70 EUR.
Address: Calle dei Cristi 1731.
Address: Campiello della Feltrina 2511/C.
Other Interesting Souvenirs from Italy
If you are nowhere near Italy and have no chance to get there any time soon, or simply have no spare room in your luggage en route home from this country, these days you can find a wide selection of authentic and truly interesting Italian souvenirs online. Presented here are some of the top Italian products sought by foreign visitors, now available online for your convenience.
2. Formaggio (Cheese) - Italian cheeses are second to none, be it French, Swiss or Dutch counterparts, neither in quality nor in taste. Some of the local cheese names, like Parmigiano or Mozzarella, have long become generic terms in the world of culinary.
3. Italian meats - Out of a huge choice of meats present on the Italian market, there are some that stand out in particular, namely: Prosciutto (Italian: ham) – sweet and delicate ham which is safe to eat raw due to its elaborate curing process; Salami - a cured sausage made of fermented and air-dried meat, usually beef or pork; Bresaola - air-dried, salted meat (beef, horse, venison or pork), aged for a few months until hard and dark red (almost purple) in color. Originated in Valtellina, Lombardy in northern Italy.
4. Italian sweets - These are numerous, just as any other type of food in Italy. Some of the snacks worth considering include: Sperlari Galatine Milk Candy - famous Italian sweet made with 80% real milk, yogurt and a bit of honey. With less than 5% fat, it is quite healthy for children and adults alike; La Florentine Torrone is an authentic Italian treat, comprising toasted almond honey nougat, lemon, orange & vanilla flavor assortment prepared by an original old recipe from the finest ingredients, such as crunchy almonds, smooth golden honey, pure can sugar, and fluffy egg whites, and enriched by flavors squeezed out of the ripest oranges, lemons and vanilla beans. Savoiardi (or Lady Fingers) - a key ingredient in many desserts including, most notably, Tiramisu.
5. Gianduia (Artisan Chocolate) -Caffarel Gianduiotto (small bites of Gianduia) is a combination of cocoa and roasted Piedmont hazelnuts renowned for its soft, decadent taste that leaves a velvety feel in the mouth. Made according to an ancient method of extrusion, using only the prized Piedmont hazelnut. Delicate cubes of Caffarel's Gianduia – a mixture of refined chocolate and the best hazelnuts – are a perfect gift (if last long enough!), individually wrapped in beautiful gold paper and packed in a traditional design gift box. Another delight to consider is Pernigotti Milk Chocolate Gianduiotto - hazelnut sweet chocolate pralines covered in milk chocolate. Supremely smooth and rich in taste.
6. Limoncello -The Italian lemon liqueur originally produced mainly in southern Italy. In the north of Italy, where it is also made nowadays, this liqueur is often called limoncino. Today, Limoncello has become the second most popular Italian liqueur, after Campari. Traditionally, limoncello is made from the zest (peels without the pith) of Femminello St. Teresa lemons which is steeped in rectified spirit (usually grappa, but vodka can be used just as well) until the oil is released.
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