Local handicrafts and artisanal items to pick up on your trip

For additional authentic finds see Michela Scibilia’s book Venice Botteghe, a unique shopping guide to the artisans of Venice.

Murano Glass
Glass takes on every form you can imagine, from kitschy barnyard figurines to gleaming jewelry to art glass sculptures. Glass is widely available all over Venice, but it’s worth a trip to the island of Murano to stroll among the shops. Stop first at the Promovetro website (www.promovetro.com) for a primer on terms and techniques, plus tips on how to avoid fakes.

Mask shops and stands are ubiquitous, but beware: The cheapest wares are made in China. Traditional masks are made of papier-mâché or leather and fetch a pretty penny. Start at Mondonovo at Dorsoduro 3063 (www.mondonovomaschere.it) or Papier Mache at Castello 5178.

For handmade letter and art paper, and hand-bound journals with marbled or block-printed covers, stop at Cartavenezia, Santa Croce 2125; Valese Alberto, San Marco 3471; or Olbi, Cannaregio 5478/A (olbi.atspace.com/).

To buy handcrafted shoes made to order or high-end, whimsical footwear creations visit Zanella, Castello 5641; Ghezzo, San Marco 4365; or Gmeiner, San Polo 591. At Dittura Gianni (819–820 Calle Fiubera, San Marco), slip on a pair of the more budget-friendly furlane, traditional gondoliers’ jewel-bright velvet slippers with recycled bicycle tire soles.

Prison Handicrafts
Two different cooperatives work with inmates on Giudecca; prisoners earn money and gain work experience. Banco No. 10, Castello 3478, sells clothing and handbags created by inmates at the women’s prison, made with luxurious silks, brocades, and velvets. Rio Terà Dei Pensieri works with women inmates, who make cosmetics from medicinal herbs, and male prisoners, who make leather goods and print quirky T-shirts and canvas bags; sold at kiosks seasonally and at a few stores.

Fortuny made his name here, and his trademark fabrics are still manufactured under top-secret conditions at a factory on Giudecca; Giudecca 805. Bevilacqua has produced velvet and damask fabrics in Venice for more than a century; Santa Croce 1320. Rubelli weaves fantastic brocades; San Marco 3877.


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