Discover Venice’s Quirkiest Secret

Emily Meades

By Emily Meades
22 Aug 2016

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Have you ever fallen asleep whilst reading your very favourite book, dreaming of the romantic, daring and perfect characters? Did you put yourself in the story and climb high into the clouds on a staircase made of books and then woken up with the book on your face and realised it was all just a dream? Well, I’ve had that dream too and this week I found out exactly where that dream becomes a reality!

Home to the legendary Casanova, lover of all woman, romantic of the 18th century and legendary icon of my new favourite place, Venice. Sitting smack bang down the coast of Italy, Venice isn’t just 119 islands (one for each of Casanova’s lovers), it’s not just gorgeous gondolas and canals – it’s the only place in the world where I will tell you to just get lost!

That’s right! Get lost, wander the narrow, curving streets, gawk at the intricate glass creations from Murano island and the ancient glitter masks ready for the winter Carnival. I got lost, and badly too. Just as I thought no map could ever save me, I stumbled across the most intriguing place in the city: Libreria Acqua Alta.


It was the sight of hundreds of beautiful books piled high around a doorway that drew me in, but it was the gem inside that really got me. Through narrow laneways stuffed with novels, wounding my way past a bathtub and a wooden boat filled to the brim with the thoughts of budding writers, ready to express themselves to the world, eventually I found myself coming out into the light.

I followed an arrow pointing outside and up I climbed a grand staircase made entirely of books. Up and up to the top and I found the most spectacular canal view in the city. I was standing on water damaged books, saved from the yearly water rise, called the Acqua Alta. Lovingly saved and bound together to let me bring my nightly dream to life.

I left after an hour, dragging myself away reluctantly, pinching my arm as I went to make sure I wouldn’t wake up with a book on my face at any moment. Please, join me in my dream and visit the Libreria – you might just climb the steps and find your Casanova at the top…

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How To Get There

Getting to the “most beautiful bookshop in the world” is an adventure on its own. Jump off the train at the main station and take a left along the canal. You’ll walk past tempting cafés and beautiful Murano glass stores on the way. Follow the brown Rialto Bridge signs for about 10 minutes until you see signs for St Marks Square. Follow these and the library will be on your left hand side.


Venice is one of the 46 stops on our Hop-on Hop-off network. Have a look on the website for more details!