We found Libreria Acqua Alta, the most beautiful bookshop in the world while strolling in Venice and really loved it. The bookstore is so unique – books and gondolas and bathtubs? Why not! The idea is so that when the water rises (high tide = Acqua alta in Italian), the books won’t get wet (Library of High Tide). There’s a bonus of cats hanging around too, now what’s not to love?
After walking around the island and having lunch, we set off to the Grand Rialto, had quick lunch, then started walking again. Soaking in the Italian sun, having fun going into streets, and finding out if it would be a dead end or if there would be a beautiful building around the corner.
We spent a few minutes at the plaza Campo Santa Maria Formosa to rest a bit, drink some, and again embark on walking. 😀 Not really sure where we’re going, we threaded a small alley and we saw this open yard (below photo). There was no sign except a “Welcome to the most beautiful Bookshop in the World” written under the table that’s full of books and posters.
The wheelbarrow is a curious addition, it’s definitely easier to get the books in on it when it rains. There’s also a rocking chair behind the wheelbarrow. It’s inviting you to take a book from the pile, sit and browse through. What attracted the kids though was a cradle basket, I peeked and there was a cat inside.
I knew this is the bookshop I saw from one of my favourite IG person.
Beauty in Chaos
Libreria Acqua Alta is a mix of new and used books and looks like everything is piled in no particular order. The books are actually arranged per topics so you can find a book about travelling to different cities at one canoe, while you’ll find a tub full of books traversing Italy, and Venice in particular. There are calendars, postcards, maps, bookmarkers you can buy. Souvenir bookmarkers with the store’s photos were what we took home. You can also find the usual masks and costumes Venice is famous for lying around, or hanged somewhere.
Luigi Frizzo, the owner, would greet you in and inform you a bit about the bookshop. You will usually find him at the cash register by the entrance, and he would wittingly answer any of your questions!
The book shop is also home to some bookish cats, visitors could pet and take photos of…or with. At some spots, they aren’t easily visible, sleeping in their baskets, you’d only notice them if they purr. The first cat you will see is at the entrance (see above entrance photo).
It was said that “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats,” but I have to add books in there as well. So this bookshop is actually a good spot to relax – be away from the hurly-burly Venice life even as a tourist.
Among the pile of baskets and bric-a-bracs are naughty items that only keen observers would notice. Above the cat’s head in the photo below it reads: Casanova Condoms Souvenir €0,50. 😀 Well, I saw this after reviewing the photos at home, I wasn’t so keen after all.
There was also that famous calendar of Italian priests being sold along with other calendars that depicts Venice’s landscape and charm. I uploaded a photo of it on my facebook page and got requests from friends to have it buy for them. lol
Libreria acqua alta exudes the feel of old Italian interiors. Arch-type ceilings, colorful paints, and ceiling high bookcases with a lot of framed paintings define the bookshops interior. The bookshop’s floors are nothing out of the ordinary, given that it is often flooded, doing repairs would be a waste of time and money.
There is a backdoor that leads to the waterways which also has chairs for patrons to sit on (last photo of below gallery). It’s like a reading nook but not really, because you would be totally distracted to read. The door is actually the fire exit, what more effective way to get away from fire than to dip directly into water? 🙂
There are two other doors that lead to a little area with books piled up and with some mismatched chairs. Charming is the word we are looking for describing this Italian treasure trove of books and antiquities.
Follow the Books (at the back of Libreria Acqua Alta)
Cautious as the owners were, some books weren’t able to make it…they are then taken at the back of the bookstore, a charming corner where they are all piled up (this is one of the two doors mentioned above). You can go up on these piles and see what’s beyond the bookshop….just follow the books. It’s always a good advice to take.
How to get to Libreria Acqua Alta? The bookshop is about 13 minutes walk away from the Grand Rialto. You can thread the streets leading up to Santa Maria Formosa church. Look for the alley Longa Santa Maria Formosa by the side of Hotel Scandinavia. You will see this shop with a sign Papier Mache and that’s the yard that’s lead to Libreria acqua alta.
Follow the books!
Libreria Acqua Alta
Calle Longa Santa Maria Formosa (Corte Senza Nome) | 5176/B – Castello, 30122