I brought about 10kg of shopping back from Venice! There are so many good shops around the city that it was easily done. The glass ashtrays I bought in Murano took up about half that weight alone!
All the shops I mention and many more can be found on my Google map.
Located in Calle degli Spezieri (street of spice merchants), Mascari is a classic old shop selling top quality food in retro surroundings. It’s a good place to stock up on spices, nuts, raisins, figs, jams, chutneys, marmalades, beer, wine, spirits, pasta, rice, olive oils, curry powder and chocolate, amongst many other things.
The spices are displayed in piles in the window, as if they were in a North African souk.
While the interior is stacked high with bottles and packets.
A local I met recommended distillates by Capovilla and suggested soaking a jar of raisins in the grappa (a typical dessert). After sampling it the night before, I bought a bottle of Capo di Stato grappa for this purpose. The Frommers guide prefers the Giuseppe Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella grappa and also suggests you get a tin of Baicoli Colussi biscuits. I’ve also had recommendations for regional wines by Serafini & Vidotto, Vignalta, Castelvecchio, Inama and Pieropan.
Just down the street from Màscari is the tiny La Baita at 48 Ruga Vecchia San Giovanni (on the corner with Calle deli Oresi). Essentially just a booth, this is where the locals come for their and ham and cheese (salume e formaggi) but you can also get olives, artichokes, baccalà and anchovies. They make sandwiches with their wares to take away here as well.
A fun place to go is Libreria Acqua Alta at 5176b Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa. The ‘Bookstore of High Water’ stores its books in bathtubs, waterproof bins, and even a full-size gondola.
It can get a bit crowded and hard to move in here due to all the obstacles in your way, however it’s worth coming just to get a photo sitting in another gondola on the canal outside the shop’s back door. That way you can pretend you had a ride without paying a gondolier’s extortionate prices!
To buy anything made of glass it’s best to jump on the ferry to Murano where it will be much cheaper (my post here).
If you just want to look then I can recommend Marco Polo International Glass Art Gallery at 1644 Calle Frezzaria, just to the west of Piazza San Marco. Be warned the salespeople are very friendly and accommodating!
A much smaller glass shop is I Vetri d’Arte di Vittorio Costantini on Calle del Fumo in Cannaregio which makes some exquisite glass works.
There seem to be a few artisans along this little alley. Another is Gianni Basso Stampatore, a traditional printers just opposite the glass shop.
There are a few of these little paper and print shops around. Legatoria Piazzesi in San Polo is the oldest paper shop in Italy.
And there is also the less picturesque Alberto Valese-Ebru at 347 Campo Santo Stefano, also in San Polo.
Another interesting artist’s shop I stumbled across was Loris Marazzi in Dorsoduro near the Guggenheim. Marazzi specialises in wooden sculpture although quite why someone would want to buy wooden bags or shorts is beyond me. That said, it’s a fascinating shop!
Carnival mask shops are everywhere. I’ve marked several famous ones on my map but wouldn’t be able to tell you which is best.
Finally, I haven’t been myself, but every fashionable lady absolutely adores Fortuny at 2428 Sestiere di San Marco, a world-famous design and fashion store.
This is a post in progress! Street art next!