Venice has perhaps the highest density of tourist tack anywhere in the world, but don’t let that distract you. Hidden among and beyond these souvenir emporia is a host of smaller, one-off shops where you’ll find traditional food stuffs, traditional products and crafts and a traditionally genuine welcome from Venetians who are not quite so jaded by contact with the memento-hunting hordes.
Tourist-orientated shops are found along all the most-trafficked routes – around the station, St Mark’s and the Rialto – offering wall-to-wall plastic gondolas, and glass animals made in the Far East. There are inexpensive leather goods outlets galore, but the contents (identical from store to store) are made in China. And mask shops, naturally, abound all over the city, much to the annoyance of local residents who complain that it’s far easier these days to buy a grimacing gargoyle of unknown origin than a loaf of bread or a leg of lamb.
For a truly rewarding Venetian shopping experience – a length of marvellous fabric, some glass item produced before your eyes, a bottle of excellent prosecco – you’ll have to wander off the beaten track. You might even find that shopping and sightseeing go hand in hand. Seeking out more interesting shops will certainly take you down back alleys and into quaint corners you may not have visited otherwise. Whether you’re out to test your credit limit, or just window-shopping, a retail tour will reveal a surprising, productive city.
My shopping suggestions
My shopping suggestions (see links below) are arranged as itineraries, taking you past sights as well as shops, giving a little history where appropriate and suggesting some non-retail stopovers. If it’s just the merchandise you’re interested in, you’ll find all the contact details in my guides.