When you are in Venice, you could as well take the opportunity to buy some gifts there. I don’t mean the typical souvenirs such as Venetian masks, but the same type of gifts you would buy at home – with a Venetian twist. There are plenty of beautiful shops in Venice, so you will certainly surprise your lover, friend or family and besides that, chances are low that they would already have something similar or identical.
This list gives you an idea of my shopping trips when I go to Venice, ranging from jewellery and beauty products, to handbags and accessories, to clothes and books. And to be honest, most of the time, these were not presents, but little things for myself.
If you are looking for a present which you can buy online for one of your friends who loves Venice, you will find plenty of inspiration in the second article of the series with 10 perfect gift ideas. If you prefer a personal experience, then you might want to read the third article in this series with a variety of original gifts and experiences.
This rather small shop sells original and often brightly colored jewellery. They also have very nice glass pearls, such as the ones on the picture below. It might not look at all like the typical Murano glass, so don’t be put off when you look at their window, but they are a real Venetian artisanal product. All jewels are based on their own design and made from Murano glass, vintage pearls and quartz. Celebreties such as Nicole Kidman and Gwyneth Paltrow are already fans. Astolfo has 2 outlets in Venice, one run by the mother and the other one by her daughter. The collections differ so you might want to pass by both of them.
(Merceria S. Zulian, San Marco 738; Frezzeria San Marco 1581)
This jewellery store, located near Ospedale, has a large choice of the most beautiful Murano glass cufflinks. Besides that, they also sell pendants, rings and earrings for women. The pieces might look similar to what you find in many souvenir shops, but the designs are more delicate and unique and come at very reasonable prices. The owner makes the jewellery in the shop and he’s very open to explain you the process and different craft techniques. The only disadvantages of this shop are the fact that you’ll have to practice your Italian (if you want to get some explanations) and the unpredictable opening hours. It might therefore be best to go there on the first day of your trip, so if it’s not open, you can go back the next day.
(Calle delle Ospedaletto, Castello 8376)
We have searched for silk ties in shops all over Venice, but in the end, we always returned to the Trevisan store on the San Marco square. Now, we don’t even bother anymore to look elsewhere and I can probably start my own Trevisan shop with all the ties my husband has bought there over the years. They have a wide variety of colors (often with very subtle differences between different types of blue for instance) so the biggest difficulty is to remember which exact color you already own. Prices are affordable and similar to other shops further away from the historical centre, so there’s no reason to think there’s a hidden tourist tax added to the price.
(Piazza San Marco: when you stand with your back to the Basilica, it’s on the right side of the square, to the left of Caffe Quadri)
TIP: When you pack your bag for your trip, use your smart phone to take a picture of the ties you already have or of the shirts with which they have to match. This will make it much easier to choose between the different colors once you’re there.
Leather is an Italian specialty and there’s no difference in Venice. If you are looking for some stylish leather gloves, you certainly have to pass by this shop. They have gloves in 60 shades, various styles and also for different occasions: from long, fancy gloves to match your evening gown to warm, comfy gloves to keep you warm. Even when I pass their window in summer, the hands covered with beautiful colored leather make me want to wear gloves and I’ll try to find a reason to buy a new pair. To make a pair of their gloves, it takes 28 steps and at least 10 artisans. As a result, they do not come cheap, but if you take well care of them, they will be your companion for a long time.
(Calle de le Ostreghe, San Marco 2360)
5. Bottega Veneta
The synonym for Italian leather, with its origins in the Veneto region since 1966, is undoubtedly Bottega Veneta. This luxury chain still applies traditional craftsmanship to produce gorgeous handbags, shoes, belts and now also clothing and home decoration. Their shop in Venice breaths luxury and you’ll find a large choice of items with their woven leather signature. Even if you don’t want to spend that amount of money, you can always go window-shopping and think of it as a visit to an exposition of beautiful design.
(Salita S. Moisè, San Marco 1473)
Close to Rialto, you’ll see the Sephora shop in black and white. This French beauty chain is not typical Venetian or Italian, but as they don’t have a shop yet in Belgium, I always stop there to buy some beauty supplies. Their own brand products such as shower creams and body lotions are very cheap and come in many scents, so you can easily buy several as alternatives to your current line-up.
If you are looking for Venetian souvenirs linked to the gondola, then this shop is the perfect place for you. It is run by Elena Tramontin, the daughter of one of the famous gondola builders in Venice. You can find a wide variety of gifts such as key rings and espresso cups featuring a ferro (the metal design at the front of a gondola), but also gondola models in different sizes. Everything is hand-made in Venice. It’s a shop where you spend hours just looking at the beautiful details.
(Calle Bernardo, Dorsoduro 3282)
If you would like to give a book, I can certainly recommend a visit to the Toletta book shop near the Ca’ Foscari University. This is the oldest (founded in 1933) and largest book store in Venice (see also ‘‘7 bookshops for booklovers traveling to Venice‘). They have every type of book you can think of: novels in different languages, historical books, travel guides and even scientific literature. If you are learning Italian, they also sell classical books in dual language. You see on one page the English text and next to it the same text in Italian. I have read a few of these, and even though the words used in Alice in Wonderland such as ‘coniglio’ (rabbit) and ‘tartaruga’ (turtle) might not be useful for your trip to Venice, it is certainly a fun way to study the language.
(Calle Toletta, Dorsoduro 1214)
A wide variety of art books can be also found at the shop of the Biennale headquarters, close to San Marco. Contrary to their shops in Arsenale and Giardini which are only open during the Biennale exhibitions, this shop is open all-year round. You find the latest exposition guides, but also many different titles on art and architecture, as well as some small gadgets from the exhibitions.
(Ca’ Giustinian, San Marco)
TIP: When you take the exit from the shop that gets into the building, there is from time to time a free exhibition. At the end of the corridor, have a drink in their lounge bar and take your time to relax after your shopping trip. You can sip your prosecco with a stunning view on Canal Grande and Punta della Dogana. If the weather permits and you’re lucky to find a free table, you can even sit outside on their large terrace.
10. Il Papiro
Once you’ve bought all your presents, you might as well buy some typical Italian wrapping paper. Il Papiro has two shops in Venice and the wrapping paper can most of the time be found at the back of the shop. They have different designs of hand decorated and marbleized paper, which is sold by page, not by roll, so you can buy a selection to make sure all your presents don’t look the same. And while you’re there, you can also get some bookmarks with the traditional characters of Carnevale or small boxes covered in the same marbleized paper to add to your gifts.
(Calle del Piovan, San Marco 2764; Calle delle Bande, Castello 5275)
If you would prefer to buy a more typical souvenir, take a look at the shops in Venice which are featured in ‘My top 8 non-tacky gifts and souvenirs in Venice‘. Many of these products can also be bought online. Alternatively, you can visit one of my favourite bookstores (see ‘7 bookstores for booklovers traveling to Venice‘) to buy your present there. Or you could surprise your friends with a book on Venice if you want to spread your love of Venice, or as a hint for a holiday next year. If you still didn’t find what you are looking for, you can follow the banner below to find a wide variety of Venice related items.
What would you like to receive from this list? Let us – and your friends – know in the comments below.
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