From gondolas, to stray cats napping on bookshelves, and to a staircase made of books – these are some of the things that you will find at one of the most remarkable bookstores in the world, Libreria Acqua Alta.
The bookstore of high water
On the last leg of my two-week Italy trip, I visited Venice which is home to Libreria Acqua Alta. This bookstore prides itself as the most beautiful bookstore in the world and honestly I think it lives up to it.
In case you didn’t know, Venice is known as a floating city. Traditional roads are replaced by waterways and canals. Instead of cars, people get around using boats and gondolas.
This theme is apparent in the bookstore as they use gondolas and boats as bookshelves.
The bookstore’s name literally translates to ‘Bookstore of High Water’. With the constant flooding in Venice, this bookstore had to find creative ways to keep their books and collections safe from the water. You’ll see books stored in an actual gondola, bathtubs and different waterproof basins. These unusual furnishings truly make this place such a whimsical bookstore.
Though the interior may be a bit cramped and a little chaotic, I think it all adds to the charm. It’s hard to see a system in place, so it’s more like treasure hunting for unique books. Some books are even stored in an actual treasure chest! Most books are in Italian, but you can also find some written in English.
Aside from books, they also sell bookmarks, totes, souvenirs and postcards. You can even find postcards that have writing on it from the early 70’s and 80’s. It was interesting to see people’s messages on it!
If you’re lucky, you might also spot one or a few stray cats that are known to linger inside the bookstore. Through the years, these cats frequently visit and nap in all the nooks and crannies of the store. During high tide, you might find them sitting on top of the tall shelves to escape the water.
Some other cool things you’ll see is an actual gondola that is parked at the very back of the store. You can’t actually ride it anywhere, but you can get on it for free to take photos.
But the coolest part of the bookstore and one that made it well known among seasoned travelers and true bibliophiles, is the staircase made from piles of old books. These are books that have already been damaged from previous flooding or books that are outdated such as encyclopedias. Rather than throwing them away, the owner decided to get creative and use them to build this unique staircase.
If you visit, make sure to climb the stairs to see a gorgeous view of the canal.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable place to visit, and an experience that is for sure to be remembered. I highly recommend visiting, especially to fellow book lovers. I didn’t buy any books, but I did purchase these Venice-themed bookmarks. I really like these and whenever I use them, it makes me happy to be reminded of my time in Venice.