Venetian glass ★★

A glass shop in Venice
Glass in Venice. (Photo by Wiredtourist)

Shopping for Venetian glass and Murano chandeliers in Venice

A glass shop in Venice. (Photo by Tarik Ajanovic)
A glass shop in Venice. (Photo by Tarik Ajanovic)
I've heard tell that there are more than 1,000 glass shops in the San Marco district alone.

That's a lot of glasswares.

It's also not surprising to anyone who has walked the streets of Venice, where every little hole-in-the-wall shop and big, touristy boutique seems to sport a display of delicate and colorful examples of the glassmaker's art.

Quality varies tremendously, and many of the items are actually machine-produced or crafted anywhere from Eastern Europe to Taiwan, but the best rule of thumb is simply to buy it if you like it and to blazes with its provenance.

Learn to make Venetian glass
Want to try your own hand at making mosaics out of Venetian glass? The maestros of the Orsini studio run courses lasting from 3 days to 2 weeks at their Cannaregio workshop (
For glass, you really should head out to Murano—to which the city fathers moved Venice's glass indsutry in 1291 as a precaution against fire—but most of the great glass-makers also have showrooms in downtown Venice:

  • Venini is at Piazzetta dei Leoncini, off the left flank of Basilica di San Marco (
  • Pauly & Co is at Ponte Consorzi, just behind the Doge's Palace, although they also have boutique shops on Piazza San Marco (
  • Salviati is right on Piazza San Marco (

Venice shopping and glass tours

Tips & links

Go to the source: Murano

The best blown glass is actually out on the island of Murano, which is where "Venetian" glass originated. » more

Shopping tours of Venice

Don't be afraid to bargain, especially if you're buying more than one item.

Let them mail it home for you

They have loads of experience packing glass so it doesn't break.

Would you really carry the thing around in your bag from hotel to hotel, running with it to catch trains and slinging it into the trunk of your rental car, only then to entrust your delicate glass baubles to the airline baggage handlers? Nope.

Accept the shipping cost as part of the price of buying the glass.

Buy with your instincts

If your idea of the perfect blown-glass souvenir is a tiny glass gondola, or a touristy glass Carnival mask, or even a glass Homer Simpson (with or without pornographically enormous phallus), that is precisely what you should buy.

Be happy with your purchase.

When I was 11, I bought—from some nondescript Venetian glass shop—a tiny black cat and spent the next several years (and several moves) carefully keeping its impossibly delicate glass whiskers, thinner than a human hair, from snapping off.

Gift suggestion

Blown glass Christmas tree ornaments are both very Venetian and quite classy.

Venice links & resources

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