Tinder Press on Tour: Amy visits Libreria Acqua Alta

October 26, 2016

You just can’t hold us down: Tinder Press continue their tour of the legendary bookshops of Europe.

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Venice as a place to visit is always quite the experience. Overwhelmingly beautiful, architecturally mind-blowing, perennially packed, and to cap it all, a place that regularly floods for 7 months of the year. One shop has entirely embraced this facet of life in the city and it is a place you perhaps wouldn’t expect to welcome an influx of water – a bookshop. Libreria Acqua Alta (literally, Library of High Water) is a shop entirely in homage to the floods that overtake the city every year, to the extent that they have even built a staircase out of books lost to the rising waters – waste not want not.

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Luckily when I visited last week the flood waters were down (though of course I had my trusty orange waders in my backpack just in case). The entire place is an Aladdin’s cave of literature, packed to the rafters with every sort of book, in every sort of language imaginable. Shelving isn’t limited to the walled variety – they have an entire gondola of material, boats and even a bath. Obviously everything has to be kept off the ground, and so the piles totter above you in every room, looking as if any moment they could give up the ghost. Was there order to this chaos? I like to think so, but perhaps this betrays an innocence on my part. Regardless, it was an incredible place to be.  Sixty per cent of the shelves hold new material while the rest is second hand – along with magazines, postcards and posters. So much to see and so little time – no doubt hours can be lost in such a place. I have never seen anything quite like it, and would urge an fellow book lovers to make a visit a top priority. The food isn’t bad, either.

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Amy Perkins, @amyperky

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