I didn't say that you shouldn't ride a gondola: far from it. I just said that gondola rides are for tourists only, and you need to be aware of it up-front. Just like the horse-drawn carriages in Central Park: but who wouldn't want to ride one? Likewise the shops, particularly in the San Marco area, have very little that is authentic. Many of the masks aren't authentic (some are), and much of the Murano glass is actually made in China. As long as you know what to expect, you can have a lot of fun: Venice has been this way for hundreds of years. [BTW, there are obviously lots of stores which sell high-grade authentic stuff, though not much in the San Marco district: an easy way to verify is via
If you've always wanted to take a gondola ride, who honestly cares if no venetians are on the gondolas?