The Libreria Acqua Alta (literally, “high water bookstore”) in Venice is full of boats and gondolas. Which in turn are full of books, of course! On the lagoon, the sea is everywhere – just like the store’s name suggests. Thus watercrafts are necessary to protect another “sea”: the sea of pages that, for the past decade, have permanently flooded the huge rooms of the immense repository of printed words in Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa.
Emily Dickinson once wrote, “There is no frigate like a book / To take us lands away”. The books in these lifeboats are extraordinary ships themselves, perfectly solid to navigate one’s existence.
At Libreria Acqua Alta you’ll find a range of about 100,000 books – new and used books, tomes on the history of Venice and graphic novels, Italian and foreign literature classics – as well as prints and postcards. They are piled up everywhere in no particular order. Luigi Frizzo is the commanding officer of this textual transatlantic, while his collaborator Gianni Coppola keeps the ship on route and always knows where to find a book in this bibliophile’s dream of a labyrinth… even when he needs to put on waders before he starts looking.
“Sea is an ancient language that I cannot succeed to decipher” is a famous quote by Jorge Luis Borges – an expert on books and labyrinths.
At Libreria Acqua Alta, every castaway printed word can help decipher one’s deepest wishes.