Thursday, August 23, 2012

Window shopping in Venice

One of the pleasures of Venice, as in many sophisticated cities, is shopping. There are streets where one can find the finest designer fashions, and there are also streets where one can find the cheapest plastic souvenir crap. What I enjoyed the most were the little, out-of-the-way calles where modest little shops opened directly to the stream of passers-by.

Venice was the first city on our itinerary, and since we were traveling by train, we'd pledged to travel light. I resisted the urge to buy things for another reason, too - my house is already full of knick-knacks and decorative vases, figurines; my dresser drawer full of clothing and shoes; my jewelry box full of sparkly earrings. Lovely as everything is, I don't need any more stuff.

Look at all the cameos! Click to "embiggen"
But window shopping? That's a guilt-free indulgence!

Venice has long been famous for fabric - silks and velvets. This shop, near the Ponte de la Madoneta, sold upholstery fabric like these cut and patterned velvet pillows, and wonderful scarves, shawls, and throws. There were gentlemen's ties in paisley.

Hand-marbled paper is a traditional art in Venice, and we found several shops where it was sold. This little shop in San Polo is called Il Pavone, and it's on the Campielo dei Meloni. It also sold hand-cut stamps, which made a nice window display.

This little shop in the Calle dei Saoneri, or Street of the Soapmakers, is called La Bottega di Cenerentola, or "Cinderella's Workshop" and features an assortment of lampshades, here in the window little shades for tiny boudoir lamps. She also sells vintage textiles and lace.

Click any photo to "embiggen"

Off the Campo of the beautiful Santa Maria Glorioso dei Frari, we found another paper shop, Legatoria Polliero. Here the style was different,with patterns that looked stenciled or stamped.

Venice is also famous for glass, and during our day strolling in San Marco, we passed this shop with an array of bright, glowing lamp shades of glass.

You see masks everywhere in Venice, for nothing is as touristy as that symbol of Carnavale. Cheap glittery plastic masks are at every souvenir stand, but if you search, you'll find the shops where papier mache masks are made and painted by hand. In these shops, the proprietors strictly forbid the taking of photos - but you can peek through the windows and take a picture of the works of art behind the glass.

And here, an artisan's shop displays an extraordinary feathered mask - this is a columbina mask, held up in front of the face with a rod or baton.

Venice is a fine place for sweet-tooths - this little shop on the Ruga degli Spezieri displayed torroni, or nougat in the window - very pretty and tempting.

The candy shop on our familiar Calle di Boteri had hand made marshmallow ropes in their window - what does "morbidoso" mean in the context of a marshmallow?

A candy shop's windows are always fascinating, don't you think?

We returned again and again to the Drogheria Mascari, also in the Ruga degli Spezieri. The street's name means, literally, the Street of Spices, and when you step inside the shop the most amazing smells meet your nose. Spices like turmeric and cumin fill the air, and indeed, colorful mounds of spice are displayed right in the window. You can buy pickles and preserves, tea and coffee, sweets and delicacies. They also have a fine stock of Italian wine and a knowledgeable staff to guide your choice.

Another little shop sold hand-carved models of boats, including gondolas. No plastic bobbing gondolas here!

More pretty jewelry, with stones that reflect the aqua of the canals.

It was all so tempting. We bought a few small gifts, but kept our luggage light. It's nice to have the photos to remember it all by - but, really, now I want to go back and shop some more!

How about you - when you travel do you buy a lot of things, or are photos keepsakes enough?


smalltownme said...

On my recent trip I had only one or two opportunities to shop...but I controlled myself and took pictures instead. That will be another blog post.

If I ever get to Venice, city of my dreams, I may not be so strong.

Susan B said...

I remember walking by that spice shop! Unfortunately it was a Sunday morning and they were closed. We found an actual glass artisan, at work in her tiny little shop with blowtorch. We bought several little pen holders from her for co-workers (blown glass tube into which you can insert the interior of a Bic pen) and some earrings. We were warned that most of what is sold as "Murano glass" is mass produced in China.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

All lovely sights, but I am totally enamored with those glass lamp shades! ♥

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Being a guy, I typically buy a bottle of the local booze (grappa or jenever or zubrowka and a few tchotchkes for co-workers, but I'm like you, I have enough stuff.

Anonymous said...

I buy all my journals from Legatoria Pollieri. They have been in business for 50 years and I have got to know the original couple who owns and now their son who runs it.
Morbidoni is a derivative of Morbido - meaning "soft", hugely soft in other words! And now I want one!