Places trip reports Venice

Venice Unmasked

Is Venice the original European tourist trap? There is no denying that Venice relies on tourism as the economic driver of this historic city. The most amazing aspect of my trip is the lack of evidence in my photos to visually document how pervasive souvenir shops are on the streets of Venice. Seriously, how many tourists buy masks in Venice each year?

Venice, Italy mask shop

There is a centuries-old history of mask wearing in Venice. What started as an opportunity for mixing of social classes during the festival season from Christmas to Lent became a social norm in a city where gambling and prostitution became acceptable businesses licensed and taxed by the Republic of Venice in the 1600s. 

Sestiere San Polo tourist stalls leading to Rialto Bridge.

A recurring thought to me is how much financial hardship the pandemic must have caused for people reliant on the tourist shops, restaurants and hotels that make up the vast majority of Venice’s economy. Tourism generated $1.8 billion in 2019 with one-third of that income generated by day tourists.

Ignoring the hundreds of tourism shops lining commercial district streets as you stroll Venice may be a challenge, but apparently you can still photograph the historic city around the shops with few signs of the trinket stands as my Venice photo album convinced me is possible.

Piazza San Marco – St. Mark’s Square, Venice