Artisan Shops & Places to Buy Authentic Souvenirs of Venice Italy
Souvenir shopping can be a tricky business in Venice. It's difficult to tell what's real from what's fake, what's a reasonable price from what's outrageous, and even what's really a souvenir of Venice. (A Pinocchio puppet that says “Venice” on it, for example, makes little sense because Pinocchio is a Florentine tale.) Real Venetian souvenirs include Murano glass work, handmade carnival masks, wooden sculptures, prints, paintings, and paper goods. Building a model boat from a kit designed by a Venetian maritime expert is certainly an excellent choice! Below are a variety of shops that offer authentic, handmade souvenirs of Venice at just about every price point.
One phenomenal, and central, artisan shop in Venice, Italy. Arcobaleno, "Rainbow", is a colorful world of pigments, murano glass beads, hand-tooled leather goods, paper goods and more. Though it's possible to purchase souvenirs from Arcobaleno at very reasonable prices, there are no chotskies for sale here! Instead, you can design your own jewelry - which they will assemble for you at no additional cost - from a nice collection of authentic Murano glass beads, request custom book covers and leather goods, or go home with a Venetian Lion brass door knocker. The raw materials for various crafts are also available for sale. Such a wonderful place for creative people and such a great deal for souvenir shoppers who'd like to go home with something authentic and original all that the same time.
La Colonna, Atelier D'Arte, Calle Seconda dei Saoneri 2658/A, San Polo
Sometimes haunting, sometimes hilarious, and often erotic, the work of painter Nelson Padoan conveys not only the beauty of the Venice, but also the intense array of emotions one experiences in this city. In his shop near Campo Dei Frari, you'll find this friendly young artist toiling away at his colorful canvases but always willing to converse with visitors and introduce you to his collection. Nelson's prices are more than reasonable for the quality and originality of his pieces. He is one of few artists in Venice whose work reaches beyond the picturesque beauty of the city and tells its compelling story in lines, light and color. With one of Nelson's pieces in your home, you don't just remember Venice, you also feel it.
Il Forcolaio Matto Venezia, Cannaregio 4231 near Campo Santa Sofia.
Piero Dri is one of four masters in the carpentry craft of creating forcole (oar locks) and remi (oars) for traditional Venetian gondolas but his sculptural works are not only for gondoliers. Piero has invented the "forcollana" a hand carved miniature forcola that makes a perfect pendant for a necklace and he makes small and medium sized, about 24-36 inches, forcola sculptures. These are unique, warm and authentic souvenirs of Venice in beautiful shapes and colors. Piero also accepts orders form customers overseas and can ship sculptures to your home.
See Piero's work here: http://www.ilforcolaiomatto.it
See Piero's work here: http://www.ilforcolaiomatto.it
Zacaria's Oggetti Artistici, San Marco 1920 on Calle della Fenice near the Fenice Theater.
Yes! It is possible to buy authentic, inspired and uplifting souvenirs designed and made in Venice, in Venice. The artisan-owner of Zacaria's designs, paints and prints gorgeous greeting cards, paintings and even puzzles with fantastic colorful images of Venice and sells them at prices that seam incredibly low for both the quality of the her work and her location so near La Fenice theater. When hunting for special moment's of your trip to Venice and gifts for family and friends, make sure to stop bye this shop!
Decima Musa di Giorgia De Carli e Paola Zennaro, San Marco, 3287 on Salizada San Samuele, near the Palazzo Grassi.
How much fantasy is it possible to convey beginning with only a plain white paper mache carnival mask as a canvas? At Decima Musa, the possibilities are limitless. Gioria and Paola are a pair of sculptures and painters from whose combined imaginations spring mask-sculptures unlike any you will see anywhere else in Venezia or the world. The series that I saw included a fantastic array of mythical characters, monsters, and amazing mosaic pieces with scenes of Venice. A mask from this shop is much more a treasure than a costume.
La Canapiglia, Artigianato Artistico Veneziano. (Venetian Masks and handmade articles.) San Marco 2604, In Campo San Maurizio.
La Canapiglia is a tiny, and crowded, treasure trove of handmade Venetian carnival masks by many of the most talented papier-mâché artists in Venice. But what makes it a destination are the unique pieces designed and created by the shop owner herself. Monica's contemporary and industrial looking pieces merge the historical Venetian craft of mask making with a modern Venetian imagination and come out looking elegant, lighthearted and well thought-out all at the same time. Go here for a mask the likes of which you truly won't find anywhere else.
Paolo Brandolisio, Traditional Forcole e Remi, Castello 4725, Near San Zacaria.
Paolo Brandolisio is one of the last remaining artisans who makes the oars and forcole, oar locks, specially made for Venetian Gondolas. Paolo was the student of master craftsman Giuseppe Carli, whose work is not only prized in Venice, but also on display in several museums. Though Paolo explained to me that most of his trade is with other Venetians, the kayak paddles are available for sale and shipping and forcole do make beautiful sculptural pieces! Learn more about Paolo and his work at: www.paolobrandolisio.altervista.org. (Paolo also makes incredibly beautiful multi-layered wooden kayak paddles, which somehow manage to be a lightweight as those made with modern materials, and whimsical pieces of wooden jewelry and sculpture.)
Atelier Flavia 6010 Castello, In Corte Specchiera, Near Campo San Lio.
Atelier Flavia is a full service Venetian Carnival Costumer. Flavia has been hand-sewing historically accurate carnival costumes and designing and producing carnival masks for over 35 years. Masks and full costumes are always available for sale or rent. But, the services of Atelier Flavia don't stop there! During Carnival season, Flavia and her staff work in the major hotels of Venice where they provide full outfitting services including costumes, masks, hair, make-up and professional photography. More casual customers and souvenir shoppers should not miss a chance to collect one of Flavia's handmade paper mache carnival masks. Learn about Flavia's work on her website.
Gilberto Penzo 2681 San Polo, On Calle Seconda dei Saoneri.
Gilberto Penzo is an expert in the history of Venetian naval craft, with two published books to his credit, who also makes and sells highly detailed scaled models of Venetian boats in his shop and workshop near Campo San Polo. In his shop you can find finished models, as well as model boat kits, ranging from simple to complex. All are designed by the shop owner. It is delightful to visit this shop and get an view of all these historic boats especially if you've been reading about Venetian history or have visited the Naval History Museum of Venice.
A Word on Banchetti: Yes, I have an "I Love Venice" t-shirt, and a gondolier shirt and a novelty kitchen apron, each of which I purchased at a banchetto in Venice. (Most of them I purchased at this one in Campo Beccarie, Pescaria, Rialto.) And I don't see any reason that you shouldn't buy some too! They make great pajamas and are also fun and inexpensive novelty items to bring home.