Venice has something for every shopper, from the most demanding and sophisticated shoppers to those simply looking for a souvenir of their visit to this remarkable city.
Between markets, stalls, travelling peddlers, artisan workshops and international boutiques, you will find a variety of fabrics, fashion, jewellery, antiques, household items and much more while shopping.
Above all, Venice is known for Murano glass, the material of the fine chandeliers that adorn the most prestigious palazzi and the material used by Venetian masters to create all kinds of forms and colours.
Vases, glasses, plates and goblets, as well as necklaces, pendants, rings and earrings. Not to mention the murrina, a traditional Venetian glass mosaic used as tender in antiquity by Venetian merchants during their travels.
Those who are lucky enough to be able to spend a few days in Venice should take advantage of the opportunity to visit the Island of Murano, where the historic glass-makers settled and where it is possible to see the magic of blown glass first-hand.
Venice is also known for its fine Burano lace, created through an age-old technique called tombolo, its hand-made papier mâché masks and its fine jewellery.
Another Venetian crafts tradition is the art of bookbindery. There are various workshops throughout the city, which sell fine bindings, writing paper and marbled paper.
And let’s not forget the sumptuous eighteenth century Carnival costumes, created from fabrics evocative of times gone by when Venice had trade relations with the East.
The Atelier Nicolao is probably the most famous workshop, with its Cinema, Theatre and Opera House costumes. Here, the most exclusive costumes for the elegant Carnival parties in the historic palaces of the city can be purchased or hired.
In the maze of small streets that make up this city, you may come across older and more authoritative crafts shops and bric-à-brac shops, so unless you are an expert, best to think twice about what you are thinking of buying.
On the subject of products that should be made entirely by hand using traditional techniques learned after years of sacrifice, low prices are not to be expected. One simple rule should be followed: if an item is not expensive, it is probably because it is not worth much.
However, most true craftsmen have their workbench inside the shop, and this little detail is usually sufficient to guarantee the authenticity of the product being sold.
Three times a year (in spring, early autumn and before Christmas), Venice hosts the Antiques Market in Campo San Maurizio, where good deals can be found and where the quality and authenticity of the displayed goods is generally assured.
The city is awash with antiques shops, from small, dark shops to true art galleries.
It is in fact the art market that expresses Venice’s split personality: there are fine antique items, even from distant lands, that attest to the city’s historic legacy, as well as more modern and avant-garde works, promoted by the innovative Biennale d'Arte, a symbol of Venetian contemporary culture.
It is not by chance that two apparently antithetic elements can be found within the same gallery, almost as if to emphasise the old - modern dichotomy that characterises Venice and its people.
Between Rialto and Piazza San Marco are the city’s most exclusive boutiques, especially between Calle Larga XXII Marzo and the Mercerie area, where shoppers will find the most famous names in Italian and international fashion: Prada, Versace, Bruno Magli, Ferragamo, Bulgari, Damiani amongst others.
Finally, one last recommendation: if you see something you like while wandering around the Venetian calli, think twice before deciding if you want it or not. In this labyrinth of alleyways and bridges that is Venice, should you decide to wait and then have second thoughts the next day, you run the risk of not being able to find the shop where you originally saw the object of your desire.