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Venice

murano glass veniceVenice is best known for its Carnevale masks, Murano glass and Burano lace. Glass objects in particular make great souvenirs and range from inexpensive glass necklaces -- sold on the street for about $5 -- to elaborate barware and chandeliers. If you're a non-E.U. citizen, keep your receipts; Italy's 20 percent value added tax (VAT) can be refunded at customs when you depart.

The main shopping district in Venice runs along the Mercerie between Piazza San Marco and the Rialto Bridge. This is where you'll find high-end designers like Gucci and Louis Vuitton -- but if you're on a bit more of a budget, check out the less expensive boutiques between San Polo and the Rialto Bridge. The shopping opportunities continue on nearby Frezzeria and Calle dei Fabbri.

Art lovers should visit the Galleria d'Arte l'Occhio, which showcases the work of young Italian and international artists. It's located near the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

You can buy glass anywhere in Venice, but the best selection (and sometimes better prices) are to be found at the source on the island of Murano. More importantly, it's here that you can visit the workshops where the glassware is made. The best known glassmaker in the city is Venini, which produces exquisite (and pricey) works of art.

Burano is the place to go for lace, but be warned -- much of the less expensive lace sold here is not produced here at all, but rather in Asia (unfortunately, even in Burano, those who make lace by hand are a dying breed). One place to get the real deal is Dalla Lidia, which offers a variety of table linens, bed sheets and other items.

Even if you don't buy anything, you won't want to miss a morning trip to the Rialto fish market to watch the locals examining the day's catch. The market is open every morning except Sundays and Mondays.
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