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 bookstore name translates to “bookstore of high water” due to the store being plagued by Venice’s rising waters. The shop sits along a canal and can be subject to flooding when the city experience “acqua alta.” These exceptional high-tides, combined with winds that usually arrive in October or November, can place the lowest parts of the city under several feet of water.
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, the bookstore’s owner, Luigi Frizzo, piled all of the books into waterproof bins, bathtubs, canoes, and even a full-sized gondola in order to protect the literature.
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 their “fire escape,” which is simply a door leading directly out into a canal. And you can’t miss the courtyard turned art project where you can literally walk up a flight of colorful old encyclopedias and get yet another peak of the neighboring canal. To really 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.