With every passing year the population of Venice falls, while commercial rents increase. The result: small-scale family-run shops are an endangered species here. Venice has two major shopping districts – the Mercerie, connecting the Piazza to the area around the Rialto Bridge; and Calle Larga XXII Marzo, running west from the Piazza – and these zones are almost monopolized by Italian mega-brands such as Gucci, Dolce e Gabbana and Prada, which you’ll find in every other major tourist destination in Italy. On the island of Murano you’ll find a lot of showrooms selling local glass, but much of the cheaper stuff is mass-produced outside Italy – look for the “Vetro Artistico Murano” trademark, the sign of authenticity. Likewise, most Carnival masks – the quintessential Venetian souvenirs – are manufactured abroad.