A testament to art, romance, trade, ingenuity and imagination, Venezia is a dream come to life complete with palazzos, plazas, gondolas, and squares set amongst grand canals. If you've made it all the way to this world-famous Italian city, don't bring back tacky, made-in-China souvenirs back home.
Here are the perfect authentic, local artisan Venetian gifts your friends will cherish—plus where to find them.
1. A Venetian Mask From Ca'Macana
For that friend who’s always covered in glitter and feathers at a costume party, find them a beautiful, papier-mâchéVenetian mask at one of the oldest and finest mask making workshops in Venice. Ca'Macana is one of the few places where all masks are made by hand, following the strict rules of centuries-old Venetian craftsmanship (which dates back to the 13th century when Venetians would hold carnevale celebrations and wear masks to conceal their identity). Plus, Ca'Macana specializes in both traditional Commedia dell'arte and Venetian styles.
2. Statement Murano Glass Jewelry And Objets D’Art From Marina E Susanna Sent
This is the perfect gift for your most artistic, design-savvy friend. Marina e Susanna Sent is run by a Murano-born sister duo who defy the typically male tradition of Venice glassmaking and blowing. The statement jewelry creations here are almost too beautiful to wear, like the soap bubble necklaces and wearable waterfalls. You can also find glass-infused plates, interwoven glass lampshades, and colorful vases perfect for unique home decor.
3. Old-World Spices From Drogheria Mascari
The only surviving spice merchant on a street once named for them, Drogheria Mascari is the place to find something special for your foodie friends. In addition to hundreds of high-quality spices, you can find numerous truffles, tea, dried mushrooms, olive oil, Prosecco, liqueurs (e.g., grappa), jams, candy, and balsamic vinegar available by the gram or liter.
4. A Bottle Of Bulk Wine From Vino Sfuso
This is Italy’s best kept secret: Vino Sfuso—bulk wine poured from a pump. Peruse the selection of reasonably priced offerings from nearby producers (all of which are sulfate and preservative-free), grab a bottle, then hand it to the shopkeeper and he’ll take care of the rest. Be the hit at your next house party when you bring a giant bottle of artisanal Venetian wine to share.
5. Letterpress Stationery From Gianni Basso Stampatore
Your bookish, Moleskine-carrying, bookbinding friend will appreciate exquisite paper products from this local letterpress workshop run by modest artisan Gianni Basso, who’s made items for Susan Sontag, Hugh Grant, Gale Greene, and the like. Purchase them a set of personalized cards, which Basso makes with antique letterpresses and hand-carved wood printing blocks using time-honored techniques learned from Armenian monks.
Also worth a mention? Burano lace—an internationally recognized product that you can purchase from one of the islands' many female producers seated in a doorway or shopfront crafting away.
Now that you're set on the souvenir front, read up on the best things to do in Venice, including a stroll across the Rialto Bridge, a visit to St. Mark's Basilica (Piazza San Marco), time spent wandering through Castello, and more.