Venetian Masks (carnival etc), Venice
A small shop run by father and son who both still practice the art of making hand made masks. They also restore antique furniture.
I arrived there after a very long walk, actually looking for another shop in the Dorsoduro area but I didn't find it. Cavalier senior was sitting in his shop, working on a mask, smoking a fat cigar. The shop was completely full, you could not have entered with two persons.
^ ^ ^ Don't forget: 3 more photo's to see in this tip!
Fortunately he spoke French and so we chatted while he carried out some articles to put on show outside his shop, thus creating room to actually be able to reach for the masks which were displayed on the wall. He pushed aside the masks he was working on on his already too full worktop and displayed the ones I had chosen.
He had many photos on the wall of himself with famous people like actors and politicians and he showed me an article in a Dutch glossy magazine that mentions his shop and artistry.
What to buy: There are basically two kinds of Venetian masks. One is the carnival masks with all the fancy lace, colours and shapes. Then there are the traditional masks: Commedia dell'Arte which have to do with theatre. They have fixed shapes and represent different characters such as Arlecchino, Capitano, Pulcinello or Diavolo.
What to pay: For a hand made mask made of papier mache with real gold leaf paper, which as a whole costs a month to make, one pays between 80 and 95 euro. You can find cheap masks all over the streets and alleys of Venice but beware: you may find a sticker with 'made in China' on it.
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
Any roadside souvenir stall..
But shops that have artists make their own masks are not all that expensive either.. and more unique as well.
What to buy: Tourists go venice with the intention of buying a mask... And i was no exception. After watching the Carnevale on travel and living on Discovery.. who wouldn't want a mask?!?!
In fact.. i had a budget for a mask... 50euros in fact.. not a lot to some of you.. but a lot for me... and i was on a seach for.. THE MASK... MY MASK.. i saw so many.. but many just looked plain common and was not that cheap either.
I have to admit though.. that i did find quite a few that i thought were.. THE mask.. but they cost around 100euros... so they could not become MY masks...
The irony of it all.. i found this shop on BURANO, the lace island.. instead of Venice.. where the guy made his own masks.. and i got MY mask from there for 16euros!!! *phew* I really love MY mask.. even though it's too small to be worn.. but i'm gonna use it for display... it's really simple but gorgeous.
What to pay: anything from 10euros to a few hundred euros!
This shop is truly special because it was this man, the owner, who first resurrected the practice of making masks in Venice after it had died out a couple centuries ago. He makes masks using the same high-quality process they used in the 1700's, when Venetians actually wore masks on a regular basis (as opposed to hanging them on the wall, like we do now). So if you're looking for an authentic remembrance instead of a cheap souvenir, this is the place for you.
It was quite amusing to hear him speak with such disdain of certain unnamed mask-makers around town who dry their masks with a blow-dryer! Obviously this is NOT the traditional method!
What to pay: Prices vary a lot with design and size, but I can tell you it costs a lot if you want it mailed home instead of taking it back yourself. One woman I know had her medium-sized mask mailed back to the U.S. and the shipping alone cost 45 Euros.
I had to have a Venetian mask but not from some touristy shop. It needed to have a personal touch. As I walked down a previously unexplored calle, I spotted an elderly woman, hand painting a mask in her shop. She was wonderful and so were her masks. Suddenly, there it was. The one for me. But, ahead of me was a full day of walking and discovery. "I'll be back later." Later I retraced my steps. Along that canal, left at that church, across the bridge, right at the cafe and there it is . . . not? Nothing! Day two another search and nothing. Ready, to give up on day three, same route and there it was! What happened? Turns out the shops were closed but more than that, they had pulled down overhead doors and made themselves disappear completely. So if you see it and you want it . . . go for it!
What to pay: I paid about $60.00 for this mask in 1998.
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.
CA'MACANA VENEZIA - del 1984
*Corsi teoritico pratici
*Maschere per il Teatro il Carnevale e l'Arredamento
Maskmaking and Courses - Dorsoduro 3215
Maskmaking and Showroom - Dorsoduro 3172 / tel +39 041.2776142
Showroom - Dorsoduro 1169 / tel +39 041.5229749
Showroom - Castello 4531 / behind Doges palace/ tel +39 041.5209674
What to buy: This is the other mask that I bought. I just had to have it !!! Do you know H.R.Giger ? It reminds me of some of his paintings. To help you - it's the guy that created "the Alien" from the movie. But than , while I was looking "lords of the rings" the elfes were looking like my mask!!! So to put 2 and 2 it's a mixture of an Alien and Elf
What to pay: the price of this one was 70 euros,but Venice is not somewhere you go every day....
This shop is a couple of doors down from Ca Del Sol mask shop (see my shopping tip).
I buy a mask every year in Venice and it's usually either from here or Ca Del Sol.
They have 2 other shops both in San Polo - one in Campo San Rocco and the other at San Toma Calle Larga.
They have blanks on the units at the far end of the shop which are relatively inexpensive which you can take away and trim/decorate how you would like.... I think I only paid about 8 Euros for the usual style mask for across the eyse and forehead.
I got a discount for paying cash too rather than using a card. They will, I believe, send your purchases home for you to save you having to take it on the plane.
What to buy: Masks
What to pay: From a little to a LOT!
"La Bottega dei Mascareri" of the brothers Sergio and Massimo Boldrin is located at the foot of the Rialto bridge and has been open since 1984. This shop offers AUTHENTIC masks which the brothers work in a centuries-old craft.
The shop is quite small and also serves as their workshop. Therefore, if you shop there, you are able to see the craftsmen at work.
Before you walk into the actual shop, you may want to look at the photographs of some famous people who have used their services.
Note that the masks from the movie, "Eyes Wide Shut" were made at "La Bottega dei Mascareri". We worked with Sergio Boldrin and were delighted with his "down-to-earth" attitude and non pressure sales technique.
He autographs the masks for you and will pack and mail them. We purchased a large solar/lunar/woman to send to the USA, and it arrived in four days.
Even if you do not purchase anything, it is just a delightful experience to meet the brothers and to see for yourself the quality of original work they do.
What to buy: One can find such a variety of masks in this shop. Medieval figures such as court jongleurs, eighteenth-century life, commedia dell'arte masks of Pantalone, Arlecchini and Zanni, and original lunar and solar pieces in gilt.
You can be assured of the quality because their masks have appeared in international fashion design displays, in films, and in the California Shakespeare festivals. In addition, articles have been written about their work all over Europe and the United States as well as in travel books and magaziens.
What to pay: Depending on what you select, you can pay between 15 Euro up to 500+Euro.
I always stop by here when I'm in Venice. I buy a mask every year and it's usually from this shop or the one a couple of doors down.
They also have another shop just across the bridge opposite. You cross the bridge and the door is directly on your right.
What to buy: Masks, traditional tri-corn hats. They also hire out costumes etc during carnival. They also run courses which can be booked by phone.
What to pay: Varies widely depending on what you want. From a little to a lot!
I had decided to take home just one mask, but sigh, I had a hard time trying to choose one!
Finally I got home with a mask that shows 3 faces, happy, angry and thinking.
What to pay: I paid about 10 € so I didn t think I paid too much.
Venetian masks are world famous and all over Venice you will find shops and art galleries who sell Venetian masks. They come in papier mache, in plaster, in porcelain or in ceramics. The decoration is so different and can be in gold or silver leaf, with pearls, paintings, ... all you can think of as per the imagination of the artist. Classical colours are black, red and gold.
The best shops to buy the masks are the ones where you can see with your own eyes how they are being created. It's only then that you can be sure that the mask is unique, handmade and autographed.
Beautiful isn't it? A Seductive Widow from the high society all dressed in black ,wearing a mask out of shiny gems and a diamond necklace on her neck.
Well to give u some news - to rent a magnificent venetian costume in the shops will cost you 250 euros per day. To buy it,which is a better investment is over 1000 euros depending on the outfit.
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)
Venice of course is known because of the Carnival of Venice and the Commedia dell' Arte.
Must have been strange walking through the narrow streets of foggy Venice in the centuries before the 18th century when masks were still in fashion.
People disguished, laughing, drinking and sometimes dancing passing eachother in the narrow streets.
I tried to imagine it when I was looking at masks in a little shop and I could imagine the feel of freedom such a mask must have given.