Libreria Acqua Alta di Frizzo Luigi. Bookstore in Venice, Italy. March, 2014.
If you've ever heard of Venice, the mysteriously enchanting canal town, you already know that it's full of secrets. It's magical, really. It's small and packed with tourists and the food is absurdly expensive, and yet one wrong turn can find you completely alone. Just you and the colored, weathered brick, creeping with vines and memories. Getting lost is the best thing you could possible do in Venice.
Nowadays, though, in the days of TripAdvisor and Yelp, little secret treasures aren't so secret anymore. Tidbits and traveling tips and the enormous "word of mouth" that is the internet can either make or break businesses. It certainly changes them. But sometimes that charm stays intact, as is the case of Libreria Acqua Alta. The most absurdly delightful bookstore/cat palace in the world.
The owner loves cats and basically claims all of Venice's strays as his own. They are purring and skulking around the store, some of them napping or simply watching.
The store sits right alongside the canal, mere inches from the water's edge. It floods every year, which is why the owner was inclined to store all of his books and merchandise in boats and tubs. My favorite, of course, was the giant gondola in the center of the store.
Don't even try to find any type of organization to the place. The books are just mountains of paper, forests of ink. Who knows what is where, save for maybe the cat residents. Again, just get lost. That's the best thing to do in Venice.
It was my cup of tea, for sure. Hanging tinsel and secret rooms and a strange back hallway that leads to an enormous staircase made entirely of books, wet and torn and all stuck together for the soul purpose of allowing visitors to feel like they're on top of the world. Climb up those steps to get a birds eye view of the store's canal side. Or as it's written, the store's "Fire Exit". Beautiful and empty of tourists, so peaceful.
The store also sells prints (many of them cat-themed) and bookmarks and other knick-knacks. We brought a few home with us. I also bought the book Pinocchio in Italian to bolster my resolve to learn the language someday.
(see all wanderlust wednesday posts)