Venice is flooded. People are wading along the streets in a foot or two of water and the buildings are boarded up. But the Libreria Acqua Alta is still open for business. In fact it’s in its element.
The Libreria Acqua Alta (translated as the High Water Bookshop), like many other places in Venice, is prone to flooding. It can be anything from a few centimetres to over a metre under water as often as 10 times a year. This day it was somewhere in between.
But there is no panic, no preparations or preventions – apart from moving a few books to higher ground. Some are already in boats. Most, however, act as furniture and are sacrificed to the water. No, nothing different happens. Flooding is so normal as to almost be a part of every day life in the bookshop. Then they take it one step further; they identify themselves by it. And that’s what makes it so brilliant.
You can’t help but admire the seemingly blase attitude of its owners. Apart from the fact they are wearing wellies you wouldn’t even know anything out of the ordinary was happening. Well it is quite normal for them.
And if that wasn’t amazing enough, take a look around and cast your eye upon the little quirks that make up the shop itself.
This was my favourite experience of Venice. I kept thinking of how it was such a unique thing to do – visiting a treasure-trove bookshop, open as normal, whilst a foot or two under water. People have paid money to see things much less fantastic, and this bookshop is in a whole different league of amazing to most of the things you pay for, especially when flooded. There’s no pomp, no arrogance, no pretence. Just walk in and have a browse.