Libreria Acqua Alta – Venice, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Libreria Acqua Alta

This Venice bookstore has resigned itself to constant flooding by keeping its books in bathtubs and boats. 


Keeping a collection of books in a city where the roads are made of water is a dangerous idea to begin with, but Venice’s Libreria Acqua Alta has nothing to fear since they just keep all their titles in waterproof basins. 

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. Due to Venice’s constant flooding, however, these picturesque piles are all placed inside bathtubs, waterproof bins, and in one room a full-size gondola. The name itself even means “Book Store of High Water.” When the local waterways rise to fill the store, the water can rise inches off the floor, which would destroy any other collection.

The store’s whimsically cramped atmosphere is even reflected in its “fire escape,” which is simply a door leading directly out into a canal. To 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 stacks. If you’re lucky, Coco, or as locals call her, Cocolina, will let you pet her as she lounges in her box next to the vintage postcards.

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