Venice: how much is that doozie in the window?

Souvenir store near Campo San Barnaba in Dorsoduro

Venice is famous  for its canals, bridges  and wondrous piazzas but not to be left out of the intoxicating mix  that is  La Serenissima   are  its exquisite  store windows. And we are not talking fashion windows here, like those you may see in Florence, Milan or New York.  Although these exist, primarily in the up-market byways near the Piazza San Marco, they are far outnumbered by  the windows of stores that cater to tourists hankering after souvenirs, yes, but also to  the visitors’ concept of Venice not so much as a place but a fantasy, a  state of  mind.

Although it is impossible to vie with the city’s photogenic beauty, these stores do their best,  creating attractive microcosms  that show off the merchandise, bear witness to the Italians’ genius for design,  and entice  tourists inside, where they will hopefully  drop a handsome sum and  help keep the locals, a dwindling population,  afloat for another season.

Carnival masks look almost human in this store near San Marco.

The best of these  windows,  whether vaunting carnival masks, Murano glass, stationery, paintings or tourist knicknacks,  appear much like tiny stage sets,  drawing  the viewer into the mysterious,  somewhat quirky fairy-tale world that is Venice.

The city’s displays, of course, are constantly being changed, so what you see in Venice one year most likely will not reappear the next.

Many of the windows are at their best at night, when they glow with artful lighting on the dark alleyways of Venice.

Here is a collection that I have taken over the years.

Most were taken with a tripod, surrounded by gawking tourists from all over the world.  Store owners don’t seem to mind your taking pictures of their displays.

In other cities they would worry that you were stealing their ideas. Here, nothing seems to faze the Venetians’ natural tolerance of tourists and their obsessions.

A courtesan and a bravo face off in the dramatic display of an antiques store.


About mondotwisto

MondoTwisto is a widely traveled writer, editor and photographer based in New York City. All photos on this blog are copyrighted and cannot be used for publication in the press or on the web without his permission.
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