Libreria Acqua Alta is a Unique Second-hand Bookshop with an Eccentric Owner:
Wandering around Castello, we came across the Libreria Acqua Alta, a bookshop whose welcome sign says that it is “the most beautiful Bookshop in the World”. To me, that was like waving a red flag to a bull as I thought that I had already recently seen the most beautiful bookshop in the world, the Lello Bookshop in Porto, Portugal. So, we had to go into the Libreria Acqua Alta to check it out.
Quirky and Bursting with Books
The table at the entrance, with a somewhat untidy pile of old prints and postcards looks pretty ordinary. However, once you enter the Libreria Acqua Alta, the uniqueness of the shop unfolds before you. The bookshop bulges at the seams with books stacked from floor to ceiling. The fascinating shop comprises a few small rooms whose walls are covered with books. There is also a bathtub, a boat and a gondola filled with books – the high tides of Venice do flood the shop and storing the books in vessels that will keep them dry is a great idea.
The Libreria Acqua Alta is unlike any other bookshop that we’ve come across. On the surface, the organization of the books seems a little chaotic but there appears to be some method to the madness
of the place. If you’re after crime or thrillers, look at the stack of novels in the boat – books by Frederick Forsyth, John Le Carre, Wilbur Smith and Martin Cruz Smith’s Gorky Park are all stacked here. In addition to the novels, biographies and reference books, you’ll also find plenty of maps and travel guides and some quirky souvenirs like “old Casanova condoms”. This is a kind of bookshop that’s nice to lose yourself in and you’ll never know what you’ll find in the organized chaos.
Acqua Alta’s Eccentric Owner
As we were browsing the shop, Luigi Frizzo, the owner of the bookshop came up to us and invited us to take a look at the book steps at the back room. It felt sacrilegious to walk on the books but Luigi insisted that we climb to the top to have a ‘wonderful view’ of the canal. He also urged us to take a look at the Fire Exit – which takes you right into the canal. Apart from being eccentric and affable, the man’s got a great sense of humour.
If you’re in the Castello area, Libreria Acqua Alta is worth a visit as Luigi loves people going into his shop. Even cats are welcomed and he seems to have adopted a few strays in his shop.
Libreria Acqua Alta is open from 9:00 to 19:30 during the week.
Libreria Acqua Alta
Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa (Corte Senza Nome), Sestiere Castello 5176B
Phone: +39 041 296 08 41
Map of Castello: