October 1, 2018

Libreria Acqua Alta in Venice

Libreria Acqua Alta
Calle Longa S. Maria Formosa, 5176/b, 30122 Castello, Venezia VE, Italy
It is a bookshop that could only exist in Venice. A black gondola sits marooned in the middle of the narrow store, as though it had been pulled out of the canal a few steps away with its cargo of novels. Outside more books are held in baskets and wagons.  The Libreria Acqua Alta, as its name expresses, knows full well the danger its wares are in from the sea.  In its courtyards, towers of moldering, waterlogged books serve as a staircase to the street.  Books and water do not mix, and yet this shop sits below street level in a sinking, often-flooded city.

Being inside, looking at the stuffed shelves and barrels makes me uneasy, as I can't help but imagine the nearby sea rushing in and drowning all of it. Like everything else in Venice, the Libreria Acqua Alta's very beauty lies in its ephemeral nature. It is something that should not exist, but does.

A book that only exists in Venice.

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