The Liberia Acqua Alta: The Most Beautiful Bookshop In The World
Fri Sep 2015
Born from the very practical idea of keeping books dry and the shop open during the frequent floods of Venice, is possibly the most charming library in the world. Hidden in the backstreet of the Castello district is the Liberia Acqua Alta, the self-proclaimed ‘Most beautiful bookshop in the world.’
From the outside, this bookshop looks unimpressive with books piled on tables and an old sign declaring its beauty. It is an easy mistake to make to dismiss this shop and pass on by. However if tempted by the name, as I was, the trip inside is definitely an experience like no other. On entering there is a warm greeting from the owner, Luis Frizzo and his many cats. Luis offers a warm smile and a joke to any visitor, encouraging them to peruse the shops many hidden corners.
The centre piece has to be the real Venetian gondola dominating the main hall. Filled with books, this is an incredible sight to see and possibly the closest you can get to look at the impeccable decorative artwork on the outside of the gondolas.
Each of the multiple side rooms has its own novel element. A courtyard has walls made from piles of old books, another has wooden boats and bathtubs transformed into bookshelves. It is more than a bookshop, it’s a piece of art.
The bookshop also offers quiet and secluded places to sit. A small wooden bench has been placed in a doorway overlooking the canal, the perfect place to watch the singing gondoliers sail past, merely touching distance away. Another courtyard has several tables and chairs surrounded with a staircase made from old encyclopaedias. This staircase can be ascended and at the top there is an exquisite view over the canal below.
As well as being the place to call to find hundreds of old and unique books, it also has a section of souvenirs. Old posters, maps and postcards of Venice are available here. More quirky gifts such as ‘Old Casonova condoms’ can be found here.
Where else in the world can you see a life-size gondola, bathtubs, sailing boats and a staircase made of books? Venice has lots to offer shopping wise, but this is more than just an average bookshop, it is an experience like no other. It could almost be described as a museum but one that encourages its guests to handle all the artefacts and rarities.
Venice has lots of secrets but this is one of its best kept ones, you will not find it any guide book or on any map, it is one of the best discoveries and cannot be missed!! It is the perfect setting for the quiet moment that so many visitors crave to enjoy the peace and beauty of this incredible city.
A definite you have to see it to believe it moment!
Calle Lungha Santa Maria Formosa, Sestiere Castello 5176b
Open 9.00-19:30 weekdays.
Blog by Emily Higgins.