Self proclaimed, ‘The Most Beautiful Bookstore in the World’, if not the most beautiful, certainly one of the most interesting and entertaining bookstores. It hides just outside the tourist traffic in Venice in the Castello Sestiere and draws me in each trip. While the sign clearly says No Dogs, Signore Frizzo’s cats have complete freedom among the books and customers.
As a collector of all books on Venice and it’s history, I always find a treasure hidden in the maze of boats and bathtubs. Sometimes it’s an even an out-of-print book. Oh my, if this guy could get on Amazon he would be a instant hit with the old books, posters, bill boards and postcards of decades past, many of significant value. But he is content to pass the day with his visitors and seemingly has the entire inventory and locations memorized.
He wants to make sure you do not miss his special stairway which is outside in the little courtyard, completely made of old books. While it will never rival the Bovolo Staircase, it’s even more unique and it goes to nowhere! He is a collector maybe even a hoarder! He may appear a bit gruff, but after talking to him on his favorite subjects: Books or Cats, he is a very interesting person. And he will happily search for books for you!
His inventory of books sits in boats, traditional Venetian Boats, Gondolas, Wheel Barrows, Bathtubs, in pleasant disarray. He invites you to browse the books and yellow feet painted on the floor guide you to the various rooms. Suitcases and trunks become library shelves and make great spaces for his books, inviting you to plunder through the treasures.
Inventory control must be a nightmare, but for him the dewey decimal system is not important. Somehow I get the feeling he has read them all.
Doesn’t this look like a lovely place to sit and read a book with the gondolas going by? If there’s trouble in the canal, you can throw the life preserver or you can arrive by your own gondola easily. It could make a great scene in a Venice murder mystery film.
It’s a wonderful place to get lost and spend some time just rummaging through this amazing assortment of books and so far from the “touristy” scene. Travel books from every country are his special. He has lots of local authors, specifically on the history of Venice and many published only in Venice which makes it a treasure trove for me. You’ll come home loaded with books you can’t resist. (I know I do!)
The name and address:
Libreria Acqua Alta di Frizzo Luigi, Sestiere Castello, 5176/B 30122 Venezia