Do you know what is even more difficult than finding a place where to eat and drink like a local in Venice?
Knowing where to shop!
Venice is a city with an amazing and unique culture. Across its centuries-old history, many crafts were born or adopted locally. Nowadays, there is still a relatively important number of artistic artisans who are keeping centuries-old traditions alive in the city.
However, they suffer greatly from the unfair competition created by cheap imported low-quality souvenirs.
This makes it even more important that you, visitor, can find the quality you deserve and spend your money in the right place.
Recognizing the authentic artisan shops is not easy, though. It requires to have quite some good eye and an understanding of what you are looking at. However, there are few things which can help you understand whether or not you are likely to be in front of the window of an actual artisan or not.
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1/ Prices and discounts on the window:
If the prices are a few cents or 1 euro, if there are big 50% or more discount sales signs on the window, you surely are NOT looking at a shop selling locally made crafts.
Artisans and artists spend hours creating even the simplest pieces.
This is why prices of locally handmade arts and crafts, usually starts from 30 euros, for the simplest works
2/ Window and interiors:
Besides the prices, the window and shop also give you a lot of information about the production. Artisans and artists usually put great care in the creation of their window and the set up of their shop. It’s elegant, has personality and is not overcrowded. They specialize in one type of craft.
Tourist traps, however, tend to look like souvenir shops. They are tacky and characterized by blinding lightings, white walls, plastic shelves and many types of cheap products…The shops of artists and artisans, also, often double as their workshop.
This means that it’s frequent to be able to see them work, smell that they have, or see the room where they do. In such case, there is no doubt left: you are in an authentic place! Careful, though, not all artisans work in the shop you might be visiting. Some keep their production and sale separated, some have several shops and one unique place of production.
3/ Unique products:
If the 2 tips before did not help you, then one of the best ways to understand whether you are before something authentic or not is to explore further.
Once inside the shop, look around you, if you see many products which are identical to one another, then you are likely NOT to be in an artisanal shop.
Artisans can have several exemplars of a piece but it will never be more than a few and they will all differ slightly from another. None will be perfect and identical, it’s the beauty of handmade productions.
4/ Informed and passionate shopkeeper, or not
Finally, when you enter the shop of an artisan or artist, you can be sure that the shopkeeper will know pretty much everything about the products in front of you, from their story to their production and will be more than happy to speak to you about it, if you show interest.
However, a salesperson working in a souvenir shop usually does not know the first thing about the production and history of glass, masks, etc. and will find him/herself unable to answer your question.
Extra tip: Don't just believe any 'Made in Italy' tag.
Permissive laws allow putting a made in Italy tag on a product when even only the last step of the production process happens in Italy. This is the case even with a minor part such as adding a button and so on.
This means that this cute bag, strangely cheap, that you have a doubt about but has a ‘made in Italy’ tag has probably been made in China It would have been mass produced by exploited workers, using toxic materials and then sent by container to Italy where someone added a button to make it become legally a product made in Venice.
6/ To save time and money at the best local shops, bars, and restaurants in Venice get yourself the Venezia Autentica Friends’ Pass
By visiting this link, you can buy a digital pass giving you access to a 10% discount in Venice on a minimum expense of 30 euros at the best Venetian local businesses identifiable by the Venezia Autentica logo on their door or window.
All are locally owned, employ locals and offer authentic quality sustainable products and services.
Read more about how you can save money and time in Venice with the Venezia Autentica Friends’ Pass
Now that you know all the essential tips about shopping in Venice, make sure to check out the following resources to make the best out of your stay in Venice:
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