CA’ MACANA - 100% original paper-mache Venetian carnival masks.

Shopping in Venice You Need to Know What to Buy

Until some years ago, shopping in Venice to buy Venetian masks was not terribly difficult. Industrial knock-offs of original pieces were appearing as long ago as the 1980s, but it was clear at a glance they weren't authentic. In the shops and even stalls one could still buy Venice masks made in the traditional way.

In those days, buying Venetian masks was not something widely done, and if you wanted to buy carnival masks, the ones you found in the most popular stalls, you could be reasonably sure, were authentic.

Unfortunately, the economics have changed, and today buying Venetian masks while on holiday shopping in Venice is no longer simple. While the interest in and demand for buying Venice masks is today worldwide, part of this is due to mass tourism, which has cleansed the marketplaces of authentic traditional products and replaced them with poor imitations of very low quality made who knows where.

Visitors shopping in Venice, looking to buy Venetian masks ask: how do you buy masks in Venice that are authentic? There are a number of places billing themselves as workshops, places where you can buy Venice masks that look the same if you don't know any better. It's very easy to get confused. In actual fact, the number of mask shops in Venice that deal in authentic Venetian masks is very few. Masquerade masks, Carnival of Venice masks – these today are rarefied items that not many shops will try to sell as authentic originals.

There are plenty of reasons for this. It is much cheaper to make plastic imitations or machine-made knock-offs of traditional Carnival of Venice masks than risk investment in a bona fide, authentic workshop making masks according to traditional techniques. Making such wonderful original art pieces for those who want to buy Venetian masks means being in a very special niche market. Shopping in Venice when it comes to buying Venetian masks or other authentic items, one has to be aware of these realities, and be able to separate the low-quality imitations that do not last from the authentic, handmade items that have been made using techniques developed and honed over centuries.

How to buy Venetian masks

Here are some tips so you can tell whether you are buying Venetian masks that are authentic or getting ripped off buying masks that are really made 8000 km away in some foreign factory.

Materials: authentic Venetian masks are made out of cartapesta (papier mache) that is lightweight, flexible, and breathes. If what you want to buy is made out of plastic, you will see this immediately when you look inside the mask. But be careful: there are also industrial-made masks that might not be made out of plastic but are still just imitations of those made by hand.
Decoration: a real Venetian mask shop has its own unique, recognizable style, a bit like how a person has his or her own handwriting. If you find yourself looking at the same 'masks' you've already seen in other shops, you're in a place selling industrial knock-offs.
Price: to make a carnival mask out of real cartapesta, even the smallest one possible, can take hours of work and thus will never cost less than 10-12 euros. If you find yourself shopping in Venice and come across a 'mask' that costs less than this, again, you can be sure that you're looking at an industrial knock-off.


Shopping in Venice? The best mask shop in Venice: Ca’ Macana

At Ca’ Macana, we have always been involved in making the best Venetian masks, and buying Venetian masks at our shop when you are visiting Italy and shopping in Venice looking to buy real carnival masks is always an authentic experience. All of our Venetian masks are made and decorated entirely by hand.

Ca’ Macana operates two mask shops, both located in the historic city center of Venice. One is in the area of San Barnaba, between the Gallerie dell’Accademia and the heart of Università Ca’ Foscari.

The first shop, located at Calle delle Botteghe, is the original workshop of Ca’ Macana, opened in 1986. In our early years, we handled the twin tasks of how to make Venetian masks and how to buy Venetian masks at the same location.

Here you will find everything you need if you have the wonderful opportunity to buy Venetian masks while shopping in Venice, Italy, including the history and meaning of Venetian masks. When you visit in person, you will get to see all the unusual creations, the experiments, and the unique pieces that we do not sell online and cannot be seen anywhere else.

The shop at Toletta, even though it is new, has a great charm and a larger exhibition space. Many of the new models are made here, and it is possible to see new masks that are still in the clay sculpture phase.

In general, when you visit Ca' Macana, you can touch, try on, and photograph masks freely without any interference. You will also find the models we made for Eyes Wide Shut, the film by Stanley Kubrick starring Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, for which our masks were specially chosen.

Of course, we make a variety of masks, so there is something for every person who visits us while shopping in Venice whatever the size of their pocketbook.

Ca’ Macana at both locations is open daily from 10:00 to 19:30 during the summer months, and until 18:30 during the winter.
Here you can see some of the fantastic decoration of Venetian masks for children and adults.

For more information, call +39 (0)41 – 2776142.



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Dorsoduro 3215 30123 Venezia (Italy)
Email: info@camacana.com
Phone:+39 041 5203229
P.IVA: 02070120270

Every day:
10AM - 8PM (Summer time)
10Am - 6:30PM (Winter time)

We are open during holidays

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