Bookshelf of the Week: Libreria Acqua Alta

It’s not unusual to find weird objects in a bookshop (and no, I don’t necessarily mean the customers :)), but it perhaps doesn’t come weirder than having a gondola slap-bang in the middle of the sales floor, as is the case in the Acqua Alta bookshop (Facebook page), as illustrated in this photo taken by Basel-based journalist Patrik Tschudin.

It becomes a little less weird perhaps (but not much), when you realise that home for the Acqua Alta bookshop is none other than the ‘City of Water’, Venice. A wholly befitting tribute then, which marries the city’s traditional form of transport, with the wonderful world of books. I love it.

The bookshop – which rests in a small courtyard under a little fig tree and is billed as ‘the most beautiful bookshop in the world’ (correct, but only to a point) – once served as the waterway entrance to a palace, and so by Venetian standards it’s rather a large place. The courtyard entrance is spectacular, but it definitely pales into insignificance when one catches sight of the entrance coming from the rear, which comes complete with compulsory life buoy. How amazing it would be to load up a floating gondola with your book purchases, while the gondolier frowns at the extra weight you’re putting into his workload. 🙂 Definitely not something you can boast about doing every day, unless you live in or around Venice of course.

It would seem, from reading around, that the Acqua Alta bookshop is also one of the most welcoming bookshops. In a 2009 trip to Venice, blogger Maria stumbled across Acqua Alta, where she was not only captivated by the bookshop itself but also by Luigi Frizzo, Acqua Alta’s cat loving warm and eccentric owner. Maria also had a bit of a thing for one of the owner’s cat, but you can read all about this, and Maria’s visit to the Acqua Alt bookshop, complete with pictures, here.

So that’s the wonderful, wonderful Liberia Acqua Alta. My thanks to Patrik for capturing such a good shot of it, and for sharing it so generously. If you’re thirsty for more on the Venetian bookshop, then I urge you to visit Andrea’s virtual tour of the bookstore (if only to see more books stored in other boats, and baths?!?), posted as part of her splendid ‘Amazing Bookshops Around the World’ feature. And as a bonus, also pop along to this blog post by Michelle, which tells a tale involving one of Acqua Alta’s cats, which had managed to get itself stuck on a high window sill (there’s a nice tail-end shot of Frizzo walking back to his store).

Over to you dear reader. What do you think of the Acqua Alta? Have you perhaps visited it yourself and you have a story to tell? I’d love to hear about it. And what strange objects in bookshops? What’s the weirdest thing that you’ve ever found? Let me know in the comments below.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).


  1. Awesome! Where d’you find ’em, Rob?! 🙂

  2. What a wonderful looking bookshop.

  3. stujallen (Twitter: stujallen)

    love it rob the ship is a great idea ,all the best stu

  4. A boatload of books! I love it. If I make it to Venice, I’ll definitely visit this shop!