But if you wish to take back home a unique artisanal piece of work; these are the shops that you must visit:
La Bottega dei Mascareri
Opened in 1984 and located close to the enchanting Rialto Bridge, this family shop is a hit with Hollywood celebrities thanks to the quality and creativity of its masks. In fact, some of them have even been used for films or featured in the prestigious California Shakespeare Festival.
Its owners, brothers Sergio and Massimo Boldrin, put into each mask all their passion for their craft and create genuine master pieces that range in all sorts of prices.
Atelier FlaviaIf you want to look the part and mix with the crowd during the Carnival, make this shop your one and only stop. Since its opening in 1980 as a handmade laboratory, it has gained a well-deserved reputation and it’s easy to understand why.
Aside from creating unbelievable historical costumes and masquerades using traditional processes, it also offers cloaks, tuxedos, wigs, hat, shoes and many other accessories. And the best part is that clients can buy or rent the precious creations!
If you’re visiting during the 2014 Carnival, please note that the shop will move to Luna Hotel Baglioni to offer an even more dedicated service to its customers.
Home to the fascinating talent of sculptor Guerrino Lovato, this mask-making shop in Dorsoduro is one of the oldest in the city and is worth a visit even if you do not wish to buy anything. After all, Lovato’s workshop has been rebuilt inside Corielli Palace in Malo as a Heritage Museum of Carnival and Theatre.
Although he won’t brag about it, he has also collaborated closely with Hollywood and European directors such as Stanley Kubrik and Kenneth Branagh and his masks were also featured in the Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons movie The Merchant of Venice.
It offers a good choice of masks both traditional and modern and it is possible to arrange an appointment to see the masks being made.
Max Art Shop/ Il Sole e La Luna
These two shops on Frezzeria, close to the San Marco Calle Vallaresso vaporetto stop, are owned by the acclaimed atelier Antonia Sautter, the lady in charge of organising the most prestigious carnival ball in Venice: Il Ballo del Doge.
All the masks and costumes in the shops are individually handmade and feature touches of fantasy and creativity that make them unique items. Traditional masks worn by characters in the Commedial dell’Arte can also be found.
Most of the masks are signed by the artists, which make them the perfect souvenir. And at Il Sole e La Luna, you can even see them being made right in front of you!