Gondolas, 13th-century-old buildings, colorful towns, and gorgeous canals are some of the things to love about Venice – Italy’s most frequented city. A real gem for history-lovers as they have strict laws when it comes to preservation, strolling along the city means you are walking into history! The canals or pavements you are looking at are basically the same as what Napoleon or the other famous people looked at. Because it’s small, you can basically explore it in a few hours while making some new friends with the locals. This city also boasts great food as Italians take food very seriously. Buy an authentic Venetian food item or souvenir for your friends to truly remember the city. Here is what to buy in Venice, Italy.
1. Murano glass
Produced in Venice, stunning Murano glass can range from very affordable to extremely expensive pieces depending on how it’s made. Its popularity goes back thousands of years! Although the colors vary, authentic Murano glass usually has rich colors with either silver or real gold inside. Mosaic-like pieces are the best as it looks highly elegant. Don’t be surprised though when the shape looks imperfect or when you see tiny imperfections – because it’s made with a manual process with no modern technology, it may look slightly asymmetrical. You may get this artwork either at physical stores or at websites that feature high-end glass art pieces.
2. Burano lace
A 40-minute water bus ride takes you to Burano, a small island in the Venetian Lagoon famous for its colorful fishing boats and cottages, and the intricate Burano Lace. These famous needle fabrics are created using the same old methods that they used thousands of years ago. You’ll find a lot of women on the island making Burano Laces. They even have Museo del Merletto or the Museum of Lacemaking, where you can get more information about this ancient art. To acquire this lace fabric, you can either visit the island or any Burano lace shops in Venice.
3. Venetian masks
The wearing of Venetian masks during the Carnival of Venice or other special occasions is a century-old tradition of the city. Used primarily to hide the identity, people wear masks so they can act freely on social occasions not limited to romantic encounters. They can be whoever they want to be and they can do whatever they want to do. Venetian masks, which come in different names, are made with complex decorations and are usually bright - mostly silver or gold. Authentic Venetian masks are made out of paper mache or cartapesta. It’s lightweight, breathable and flexible. The cost per mask is between 9 USD to 12 USD. You’ll find these masks mostly in the city center of Venice.
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Sometime in the 1930s, bartender, and owner of Harry’s Bar in Venice, decided to mix sparkling white wine, pureed white peaches with other ingredients and created Bellini - now one of Italy’s famous cocktails. This cocktail was once Ernest Hemingway and Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite drink. You will get the opportunity to taste this delicious and delectable cocktail while you are in Venice as there are a lot of places that sell these such as in bars and hotels.
Venice Tour Guide
Born and raised in Venice, I ventured far and wide, getting 'germanised' in Bochum and Göttingen, absorbing the post-Olympic vibrance in Turin, getting drunk in the worst bars in Moscow, tracing the historic Silk Road in Central Asia, indulging in Berlin's pulsating club scene, and engaging in the corporate world as a manager in the construction equipment industry across Africa and the Middle East. Back in Venice since 2018, I'm currently pursuing a second degree in Art History, sharing the city's rich heritage with a passion. With over 1000 full-star reviews, my aim is to ensure every visitor experiences the enchanting magic and timeless charm of Venice. Today, I am a tour guide in Venice and I'm excited to share my profound love for this city, commitment to sustainable tourism, and insider tips as a local guide. Let me unveil hidden gems and guide you through unique experiences that leave an indelible mark!
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5. Gondola-shaped pasta
Italy, particularly Venice, is famous for its pasta. They come in different forms - spaghetti, penne, lasagna, and the must-buy in Venice - the gondola-shaped pasta. It’s considered as a Venitian masterpiece because it’s designed to hold sauces, making them more delicious to eat. Gondola-shaped pasta are authentically Italian and it’s best to eat them with olive oil and chili peppers. It’s a great souvenir for your family and friends back home.
6. Gondolier's hat
A gondola was once the city’s mode of transportation - in fact, it’s a symbol of Venice. When you visit the city during the summer, the Gondolier’s Hat will resemble the inside of the gondola. In the winter, you get to have the black Gondolier’s Hat. It’s usually made with straws designed to protect someone from extremely high temperatures. Most tourists buy this hat while strolling around Venice as it’s comfortable and also fashionable. A red, blue or black ribbon adds even more elegance to it. These hats are extremely popular that they were even featured in Vogue Japan.
7. Il Mondo in Miniatura - miniature Venice
The best way to remember Venice is to buy a miniature that resembles popular landmarks in the city. Miniature Rialto Bridge, San Marco Square, The Grand Canal with the fish market and the gondolas, Venitian palaces and churches, and even houses are some of the things you can buy. Its hand-painted, and made with resin and marbles. A miniature Venice is a perfect gift to buy either for yourself or for a friend back home. It will remind them how beautiful this city is. Being a tourist’s favorite, and it’s only right to keep a part of it with you.
8. Handmade paper
Paper mottling is a technique of making paper in Venice, where they decorate the paper with colorful lines, materials, and symbols. This Venetian paper is perfect for gifts, greeting cards, diaries, calendars, and other art pieces. You can even buy handbags, paper curtains and other beautiful accessories made with these mottled paper. Most of them are waterproof and entirely handmade. They also come in astonishing patterns and color combinations.
9. Baicoli (biscuit)
Baicoli, or biscuit, is a Venetian term. These vanilla-flavored ship’s biscuits were used in ancient times by Venetian sailors as it has a long shelf life. Famous philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche used to love these biscuits too. You’ll find these slightly sweet and crunchy biscuits in major grocery stores in Venice. They usually come in metal boxes and can stay fresh for a long time. Today, baicoli are served with a dessert called zabaglione or coffee. You can also eat them with your favorite spiced wine or hot chocolate.
10. Forcola (handmade gondola rowlock)
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
If you have ever seen a gondola, the oar holder used for rowing is called the forcola. The latter, which is handmade, is unique as it’s specifically made for a particular gondolier. No forcola are ever alike - how it’s made would depend on the weight and the height of a gondolier. There are 40 different types of gondolas yet only 10 are being used today. This oar holder is one of the best things to buy in Venice as it’s a great piece of art that you can give as a gift or buy for yourself.
A real gem of a city
Venice is known by many names: The Floating City, City of Water, City of Masks, City of Canals, etc. Situated in the Venetian Lagoon, part of this city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s famous for its beautiful canals, art, and architecture. By far it’s one of the most visited and beautiful cities in the world. Almost everyone wants to visit Venice to experience its renowned beauty. Tourists also make it a point to remember Venice by buying authentic Venetian souvenirs that will later remind them of their visit to this historical city.
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