4 December 2015

Shopping on the Strada Nuova, Venice

The Strada Nuova (or Nova) is a name used to cover long chain of shopping streets running through Venice. The route runs from Venice's railway station towards the Rialto Bridge and St Mark's; it was driven through existing buildings and canals in the nineteenth century. Although sections of the way have different street names, Venetians tend to call the whole route the Strada Nuova. I used to live near the street and it's one of my least favourite places in Venice, partly because of the relentless hordes of tourists flooding along, generally day-trippers who are too tight-fisted to pay for a ferry ride down the Grand Canal,

But although it may be tourist hell for much of the year, the lane is also an important local shopping destination. Like elsewhere in Venice, useful local shops are steadily being replaced by tourist stores, but here there are still shops where you can buy bedding, old ladies' clothes, window blinds and all sorts of other everyday items. And the shops for tourists aren't all tacky chains and Chinese souvenirs. As I've been staying on the Strada Nuova this week, I've hunted out some of the more interesting boutiques. The businesses I've listed can all be found on the section of the lane between the Cannaregio canal and the Ca' d'Oro vaporetto stop. The first stretch is officially called the Rio Terrà San Leonardo. I've listed shops consecutively; note that the numbers in the address relate to the district of Cannaregio, not the street itself (Venice doesn't have street numbers).

Oreficeria alle Guglie (Cannaregio 326).
Right next to Ponte delle Guglie, the large bridge over the Cannaregio canal, on the railway station side, this jeweller's has a nice range of jewellery and gifts. I particularly like the Venetian cameos with scenes of the city and of the Lion of St Mark. It also stocks lovely pendants of Murano glass made with the millefiori technique.

Nerovenezia (Cannaregio 1591)
A cut above the many tourist glass shops on the street, Nerovenezia is an artisan boutique whose owner makes some striking and unusual glass jewellery, including some romantic pieces of embracing couples which would make a good Valentine's gift. Everything is handmade - and if you want to have a go yourself, you can also buy beads, ribbon and cord to make your own creation.

Nave de Oro (Cannaregio 1370)
This is a wine shop selling vino sfuso by the litre (locals bring their own plastic bottles to be filled). A cheap way to buy local wine.

Fanny (Cannaregio 1647)
With a couple of branches in Venice, Fanny is a good place to buy quality leather gloves, in many colours and styles. I've been buying my gloves from them for years.

Rizzo (Cannaregio 1355)
Rizzo is a Venetian institution; a tardis-like shop which is full of treats for foodies: foccacia, rolls, pastries and sweets, fresh pasta ready for cooking, cheeses and all sorts of packaged speciality biscuits, jams and sauces to take home in your suitcase.

Ca Macana Atelier (1374)
A Venetian mask shop selling authentic, good-quality papier mâché creations for Carnival or just for fun.

Giunti al Punto (Cannaregio 2001)
Useful bookshop which sells books in English as well as Italian, including guides to Venice.

Vladi Shoes (Cannaregio 2340)
An artisan business selling colourful  and stylish shoes, specialising in bold and slightly quirky designs. They're not cripplingly expensive either.

Farmacia Santa Fosca: The Merchant of Venice (Cannaregio 2233
This historic pharmacy is fascinating to visit; the right-hand part of the business now houses The Merchant of Venice perfumes and it's one of the most interesting shop interiors in Venice. All the traditional historic features have been restored to their 18th-century appearance: carved wooden shelves housing blue and white pots of medicine and herbs. There's another interior like this preserved in the museum at Ca' Rezzonico; you can appreciate this one for free and in its original context. The perfumeria is also a good tourist destination in itself. With eau de toilette from €45, you can choose from a wide range of scents inspired by Venice's historic trade routes.

Less exciting than some of these other shops is the Conad supermarket, by a bridge at Cannaregio 3660 (near San Felice). It's a crowded and useful store where you can stock up on food for your apartment, a picnic, or bits and pieces to take home.

If you're ready for refreshments after all the shopping, you can try good wines and local food platters at La Cantina (Cannaregio 3689, Campo San Felice). Alternatively, if you want colder refreshment, pay a visit to Grom (Cannaregio 3844), a quality Italian ice cream chain (their granita is quite good, too).

You can read more about Venice, including the details of other interesting shops and boutiques, in my guidebook and on the Venice section of Italy Heaven.

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