Venice possesses a number of excellent book shops and no wonder, given the city’s long and illustrious history as an important centre for printing.
It is generally believed that the technique of moveable type printing was first introduced here around the middle of the 15th century, via travelling German printers who brought their skills with them. Over the years that followed, Venice’s printing industry grew at a rapid rate, due to a number of factors such as the city’s climate of relative spiritual freedom and tolerance, its culture of business and exchange, and its proximity to Padua – a vibrant centre of humanist studies during the Renaissance. By 1488, nearly 200 printing presses were in operation, and it has recently been estimated that more books were made here than in any other European city during the 15th century.
We’ve picked a few of our favourite book shops for you to visit next time you are in Venice:
Libreria Acqua Alta: Arguably one of the most picturesque book shops in the world, Libreria Acqua Alta (“high water book shop”) is one of Venice’s most eccentric spots, and well worth seeking out. Suffering from frequent flooding, the store displays its wares piled high in bathtubs, rowing boats and even a gondola.
Calle Longa, Santa Maria Formosa, 5176/b
Biblioteca Emiliana: Step into this tiny shop near the Frari church, and you’re immediately transported into another era. Lined from floor to ceiling with beautiful wooden bookshelves, this tiny atmospheric store specializes in rare antique maps, prints and books about the Venetian Republic.
Calle Larga Prima, San Polo 2941
Assouline: Situated within the Bauer Hotel, this glamorous boutique offers a curated selection of luxury titles on art, travel and fashion, as well as a number of sumptuous books about Venice. Our top picks include “Simply Italian – Cipriani”, with recipes and tips from Harry’s Bar owner Arrigo Cipriani, and “Venetian Chic”, written by Bauer-proprietor Francesca Bortolotto Possati and featuring stunning photographs of some of Venice’s most stylish homes, ateliers and private spaces.
If you are looking for a great Venice based read then why not see our review of The Unfinished Palazzo.