Venice is a city of hidden mystery, with some of its most beautiful places tucked away. To find the most unique souvenirs, one must look past the tourist shops to discover artisans who still work exclusively by hand, using traditional techniques that incorporate Venice’s unique history. These five secret shops sell the finest paper, lace, silk, and jewelry in Venice.
What: Handmade Books
Location: Calle dei Fabbri, San Marco 831
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Walk in to this magical bookbinding store and you will feel transported back to another time. The smells of leather, paper, and glue permeate the air in this paradise for book lovers. The owner, Dario Ustino, takes old copies of modern-day classics like The Little Prince, Harry Potter, and Alice in Wonderland and gives them stunning, new artistic covers using traditional bookbinding methods. The artful books look like they should be exhibited in a gallery rather than a bookstore. Every one of his books is meticulously crafted by hand.
What: Handmade Paper
Where: Campielo de La Feltrina
Venice has a long history of paper-making and Legatoria Piazzesi is Venice’s oldest paper shop, having remained in operation since 1851. You will not find paper like this anywhere else in the world. All of their designs are created using a hand-carved woodblock that gets stamped onto each individual sheet of paper. Along with paper, they also have photo albums and journals that make excellent gifts.
What: Lingerie, Linens, and Lace
Where: San Marco, Calle delle Ostreghe, 2434
This boutique is filled with exquisite nightgowns and Christina Linassi will make you believe you are stepping back into a time when one dressed for bed with the same elegance one did for a five-course dinner. Although Cristina Linassi also has an array of delicate table linens, sheets, and napkins, her peignoirs and nightgowns are simply not-to-be-missed. Made from cotton and trimmed in Venetian lace, they will, without a doubt, help awaken your own inner courtesan. The owner will do adjustments on site to ensure the nightgown fits perfectly.
What: Silk Accessories
Where: San Marco 2428 Calle delle Ostreghe andSan Marco 4753 Ponte del Lovo
Venezia Studium sells silk accessories from mysterious fabric and fashion designer Mariano Fortuny, who created a secret method for crinkling silk fabric to dazzling effect. Born into a Sephardic Jewish family and the son of one of Spain’s most glorified 19th century painters, Fortuny came to Venice in 1889 with his mother and sister after the death of his father. As a young man, he became enamored with his father’s vast collection of Oriental materials and began to explore textile design. At Venezia Studium, they use Fortuny silk fabric in elegant scarves that have a sprinkling of beading on the edges. They also sell fashionable evening bags made from the material, along with unusual Venetian lanterns.
What: Venetian Beads and Jewelry
Where: Dorsoduro 669 Campo San Vio and San Marco 2090 Ponte San Moise
Marina and Susanna Sent are sisters who have created a unique line of fashion-forward jewelry that combines ancient Venetian glass techniques with a modern-edge twist. Imagine a choker created out of clear bubble-like beads, or cubes infused with wondrous kaleidoscopic colors. In their chic store in Dorsoduro, they sell a few select pieces made at their studio located on the island of Murano. The sisters are at the forefront of showing how Venetian artisans can mesh modern day aesthetics with traditional materials.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Venice Guide