Funny thing. While in all Europe, in December, commerce is directed to Christmas, Venice is already selling… Carnival. Yes, if we search for it we may find some gadgets included in Christmas paraphernalia, but the core business in early December is already masks and costumes. That means two things:
• Venice is not a child’s destination
• Venice’s Carnival keeps being a special event.
I tried to discover the price of the beautiful costumes in display – no way! Either they were only displayed for decoration or the price is so frightening that it is only announced by demand.
The masks are very expensive, as expected. But in some popular stalls it’s easy to find something alike, for half the price. Unbranded, of course, no warrantee, doubtful quality, ordinary design, but… it’s carnival. What’s the problem?
There loads of little shops where you can find unique masks. In a lot of shops you can buy cheaper ones and they nice too. But the real Carnival Masks can be quiet expensive.Same with the glass, you can buy cheaper on or spend a lot of money on it.
What to buy: Shop for some special Murano glass, handpainted Masks or some beautiful lace
What to pay: 1-10000 Euros
Venice is know for Carnevale which is celebrated in February each year. Elaborate costumes are worn along with masks. Originally was a celebration of marriages but now just as a festival. Mask shops can be found all over Venice and throughout Italy. The price of these masks can be quite high. I didn't end of buying one just because I worried I would damage it transporting it home. I was fortunate to find a beautiful mask at Pier One Imports (made in Venice, Italy) and bought that instead.
All shops in Venezia...You need to be aware that many shops sell Chinese made things that look Italian. That mask you think was made by a specialist in Venice? Probably not.
There are shops in Venice where you can see people carry on this tradition of mask making, so ask the tourist office or at least keep your eyes open when you get lost wandering around.
When you are in doubt, ask the shop owner if the item was made in Venice.
Italy is losing many of their traditional craft maker people due to old age and lack of a good income from this skill. So when you see someone making an item in a shop, take a good look and enjoy watching something special. It is kind of a dying breed.
And...in particular there are a few shops that make blank books in very nice covers. This is a good buy if you like this sort of thing.
There is a mask maker shop near Marco Polo's House.
What to buy: Masks
Books in nice bindings
Glass items NOT made in China (BEWARE)
It would be foolish to return from Venice without a carnival mask in your luggage, which are as ubiquitous in Venice as matryoshki are in Russia.
This unique store - Mondo Novo - specializes in papier-mâché and custom-designed creations, it is at the same time one of the oldest and one of the most contemporary of Venice’s mask workshops.
The owner, Lovato Guerrino designed the ceiling decorations for the new La Fenice opera house; he has worked also on the inner decorations of The Venetian Las Vegas Hotel Casino. and last but not least, in a contract with Boris Yeltsin, he has realized the papier-mache decoration of the great Romanoff style cupolas in the Kremlin-Moscow.
His masks have appeared in several movies, Stanley Kubrick bought the masks for his movie "Eyes Wide Shut" in this store.
What to buy: Venice's best traditional Carnival masks in vivid solid colors. Made of traditional papier mache with black ribbon ties. Perfect for carnival and masquerade parties! One size fits most adults.
What to pay: The cheaper masks are in the near of U$20 to U$30
There were the usual souvenir stands everywhere. They tend to be concentrated in places like St. Marks, at the vaporetto stops and and the ends of bridges.
This was a photo I took of one of them - we didn't buy anything.
A very interesting shop specializing in traditional Venetian carnival masks, but they also make modern ones- Batman, Homer Simpson, Shrek, etc.
I found this store, like many other things in Venice, just by accident. I didn't see a sign with a name and it was turning dusk. An interesting shop to browse.
On my visits to Venice, I've come across many 'Venetian masks' I've still not been tempted to buy one yet - but I have one at home that I bought in Sheffield for a local 'Masked Ball' - which has a made in Venice tag
Crossing Campo San Tomo, I came across this shop, and was mesmorised by the works of art in the window. I could see a young man at the back of the closed shop working on a mask.
I guess if You want a quality crafted mask, this is a place to visit. There were no prices on the masks displayed in the window - another clue that these are quality pieces, and aren't going to be cheap.
to be continued..
Wide varieties of masks of exceptional quality. I bought one for my sister in law who teaches drama to children and she still praises me for the beautiful gift.
What to pay: Prices varies according to elaboration of masks
What to buy:
You might not buy a mask just to participate in one of the worlds most famous carnavals in Venice. However you sure can buy some masks, you can use them at a party or just for decoration. They are so colourful and attractive.
What to pay: Negociate - negociate - negociate
In case you missed the Carnivale in February and you still want to see masks, March and April will find Venice crammed to the eyeballs with shops full of masks both traditional and modern.
What to pay: Anything from a few Euros to many hundreds
Carnevale, or Carnival is a pre-Lent celebration. In Venice the traditional grew around paper mache masks and escalated over the centuries to some amazingly ornate decorations. The city of Venice is absolutely filled with shops selling them at every turn. Quality ones that you could use yourself can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars. I recommended cheaper versions if you can 1) get them home safely and 2) they are just going to hang on a wall. You can get some great looking ones for $20-$30 if you shop around. Do not buy in the first place you look. There will be a better looking one slightly cheaper at the next shop you see right after you buy one. You can also do a simple internet search and find loads of websites selling authentic masks if you don’t want the hassle of protecting your mask(s) during your travels home.
venetian masks is something a must whenever visit venice. no matter if we have to be extra careful on the way home in handling the masks :)
there are several material to make these masks. from papermarche to gypsum. first time visit, oho ... i bought the gypsum one and it's a bit nervous being fly 16 hours afterwards and keep the fragile ones on hold. second visit, we decided to buy the papermarche ones. easier to be put in our backpack in the cabin.
but of course we do window shopping to see the luxurious and expensive venetian masks. it's about euro300 per item.
What to buy: venetian masks and our fave tee-shirt "la gondoli - la gondola" :)
What to pay: euro17 per item make us satisfied :)
After spending a day to buy THE mask, this was it. It had the exact one I needed and it was made in the store (not in China like the mass masks all over the city). This store had so much variety it was overwhelming, and I wanted to buy more then one.
Sometimes you can watch them make masks right in front or you and ask a bunch of question (my curious husband always does)
What to buy: Mask of course
What to pay: Be prepared to pay from 50+ euros, more complicated and fancier your mask is more expensive it will be. Real masks are expensive, but worth the quality.
What to buy: What to buy in Venice? Well forget clothes and cosmetics, it is too expensive. Perhaps some souvenirs. It can be a small gondola or better Venetian masks. They are expensive but excellent quality. The small one is about 6-8 euros. Of course there are masks of 300 euros but it is masterpiece. The better price you will get on the streets than on the shops and the goods are the same.