“In Venice, the line between art and craftsmanship blurs,” writes Victoria Pope at The Smithsonian. The matchless quality found in Venetian products is the “legacy of guilds formed in medieval times to uphold standards and train artists to preserve the tradition of excellence.” While artisanal traditions across the rest of the industrialised world have disappeared, Venice has kept its artisan traditions alive and vital explains Lonely Planet. “Famed Murano glass, Bevilacqua fabrics and Burano lace are just the beginning: more unusual crafts including marbled paper, block printing, bespoke shoemaking and sculptural jewellery also make shopping here an education.” And Frommers has this advice: “Where you buy cheap, you get cheap.” In a city that thrives almost exclusively on tourism, “there are few bargains to be had; the nonproduce part of the Rialto Market is as good as it gets, where you'll find cheap T-shirts, glow-in-the-dark plastic gondolas, and tawdry glass trinkets ... Venetians, centuries-old merchants, aren't known for bargaining … you'll stand a better chance of getting a bargain if you pay in cash or buy more than one item.”
Here are 10 luxury Venetian handicrafts you won’t find elsewhere:
Delphos gown: “These satin dresses would later be collected and worn as eveningwear by great beauties like Gloria Vanderbilt, Tina Chow and Natalia Vodianova,” enthuses Laird Borrelli-Persson at Vogue.
Furlane (slippers): Originating in Fruili in northern Italy, these rubber-soled velvet slippers found favour with gondoliers during the second world war because they “didn’t scuff the precious woodwork of their boats,” explains Aimee Farrell at the FT.
Ottica Carraro eyeglasses: “A document dated June 15, 1301, states that Venetian artisans making ‘vitros ab oculis ad legendum,’ or eyeglasses for reading, should be enrolled in the glassmakers guild,” reveals Kate Singleton in The New York Times. These days it is Danilo and Alessandro Carraro who “provide glasses wearers with a dash of Venetian color and verve.”
Daniela Ghezzo shoes: The creator of shoes that are impeccably constructed. “Daniela’s dexterity with expensive skins, and her awareness of how to express their innate elegance, must owe something to a city made of masterpieces of art,” comments Erla Zwingle at Craftsmanship Quarterly.
Murano glass jewellery: Both Attombri and Marina & Susanna Sent create “high fashion jewelry found on runways and in exclusive social settings around the world,” advises Kathleen Beckett at The New York Times.
Gianni Basso business cards: “Basso has hand printed for his illustrious celebrity clientele; actors, writers, royalty, composers, Nobel Prize laureates, fashion designers, and the list goes on,” explains the Contessa at Contessanally.
Signor Blum wooden toys: At Signor Blum you can find anything from puzzle models to clocks and airplanes, every piece the result of “an original design, entirely hand cut,” recommends Venezia Autentica.
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