Perched on a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea, the beautiful city of Venice evokes countless quaint aquatic images, from gondolas and vaporetti lumbering down the canals to tiny bridges arching between its sidewalks. However, sometimes, water becomes more than an idyliic backdrop to the city: strong tides in the Adriatic can cause water levels to rise, creating the so-called “Acqua Alta,” floods that force the lagoon to pour from the canals onto Venice’s sidewalks and into its buildings.
Keeping a collection of books in a city where the roads are made of water is not a good idea, but Libreria Acqua Alta, a bookstore in Venice, has come up with a solution to the city’s acquatic whims.
A mix between a flea market and an actual library, the self-proclaimed “most beautiful bookstore in the world” is composed of a number of over-stuffed rooms stacked wall-to-wall with books, magazines, maps, and other ephemera all placed inside bathtubs, waterproof bins, and in one room a full-size gondola. There’s something for every one, from old second hand atlases, dictionaries, art books, biographies to calendars and history books. You just have to look long enough.
The name itself means “Book Store of High Water”, and When the canal rises, the store floods with several centimeters of water, but the books remain preserved thanks to their special storage spaces.
The store’s whimsically cramped atmosphere is even reflected in their “fire escape,” which is simply a door leading directly out into a canal.
The bookstore also offers visitors a different view of the canals, from a staircase made of books.
But the books, gondola, and bathtubs aren’t the only reason to visit the bookshop. To really complete the look, the store has become home to more than one stray cat, who are also able to escape the rising tides by hanging out atop the book stacks. Cats, it seems, very friendly with tourists (I didn’t meet anyone).
In any case, A visit to this bookshop when you are in Venice is almost compulsory, because it’s clearly one of the most interesting ones you’ll ever come across!