A TALE OF ADVENTURE AND MYSTERY, AMIDST GONDOLAS AND BOOKS
Venice: in a not-so-crowded alley near St. Mark’s Square, close to the church of Santa Maria Formosa and overlooking a canal, we find the Acqua Alta Bookshop. Opened in 2004 on an idea of Luigi Frizzo, the bookshop represents Venice and all its history, culture and originality. Here, all sorts of books – new, second-hand and antique – have been turned into remarkable furnishing items
The city of Venice, in all its charm and mystery, is enclosed in this microcosm of eccentric furnishings, books and cats. And when the tide comes up 1.1 m above the average level, the water comes in through the door that opens onto the canal. But the bookshop is equipped with furniture that can float and safeguard its precious works: a gondola, a disused boat, a bathtub even.
To preside over the “blockhouse” we found Luigi, who can “unearth” every desired book because he knows by heart where almost every book awaits. Bet against him at your peril! He’s all part of the charm of the place, thanks to his knowledge of the field and his creativity.
Besides being an eclectic bookseller, Luigi is also a valuable guide: he shows tourists and customers what he calls the bookshop’s precious gems, from the book-staircase, the emergency exit to the gondola. The book staircase is an original solution to allow customers to enjoy a view of the canals, and the palace where Hugo Pratt set one of his Corto Maltese stories. This staircase has been created through a creative idea of recycling, for it is made up of old books otherwise destined to the pulp plant. The emergency exit is special too: a door onto the canals, with chairs and a sofa to watch the rising and falling tide, or to greet the gondolas gliding by.
The unique staircase also displays a photo of Luciana Littizzetto, the well-known comic actress, during her visit to Venice and the bookshop. As well as the petite Luciana, various other well-known personalities, writers and performers have visited what has become a true Venetian landmark.
– How is the bookshop organized?
When walking through the main entrance, you behold a gondola, which serves as a bookshelf for publications about Venice. In the adjacent room to the entrance are novels and comics, which range from science fiction and thrillers to comic books and love novels, both in Italian and foreign languages, and many guide books. The bookshop also specializes in some niches such as economics, philosophy and art, which attract many students every day. And then there are the highly-original editions, such as the “The Little Prince” in Venetian dialect (El Principe Picinin). You just need to have patience and time: by combing through all the material, you will always come away with a unique and precious book. Some handwritten labels will guide you among the high stacks of books. There are many titles available, over half a million: new, antique and some extremely-rare volumes dating back to the nineteenth century and printed in the original language.
Even though the rooms are not big, special events have been held here, such as book launches or temporary exhibitions by artist friends, attracted here by the unique atmosphere.
– How can I reach the Acqua Alta Bookshop?
You reach the shop by crossing Campo Santa Maria Formosa and entering Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa. Before the end of the alley, on the left, in a small courtyard, you will find the Acqua Alta Bookshop.
Campiello del Tintor, 30122 Venice