The independent bookstores of Venice are a reflection of the city’s diversity and long literary history. There are new and well-curated shops, historic booksellers in operation since last century and secondhand stores stuffed with old, dusty books. Here are some of the best places where you can pick up something great to read or spend an hour delightfully browsing.
Libreria Acqua Alta
The sign outside declares: Welcome to the most beautiful bookshop in the world. That’s a statement you’d be hard-pressed to contest, as you take the view of the canal in the backyard standing atop a set of stairs constructed entirely of old books. The dominant aesthetic is much like the city it is situated in – old, crumbling, haphazard yet somehow still functional and full of the beauty that accumulates only with time. Secondhand book lovers will delight in sifting through bathtubs and gondolas piled high with books, with shelves for English, French, and German speakers. Cat lovers will come to see the furry creatures that inhabit the store with a total disregard for all the human activity around them.
Acqua Alta, Castello 5176/B, 30122 Venice, Italy +39 041 296 0841
This shop’s interior is about the size of a generously apportioned walk-in closet, and absolutely crammed with old books on all different subjects. However, you’ll mostly want to spend your time outside, where stacks of old posters and postcards are worth browsing through. If you’re on the lookout for a vacation read this is the place to go, with a healthy selection of secondhand English and French books.
Libreria Miracoli, Canareggio 6062, 30121 Venice, Italy +39 041 523 4060
This is one of the largest bookstores in Venice. A place for serious readers, who will no doubt enjoy its well-curated and up-to-date selection of fiction and nonfiction from the best publishing presses in Italy. If you’re on the lookout for new releases, this is certainly the place to go. The books are organized tidily by subject matter and publisher and the staff are great with making suggestions if you’re not sure what you’re looking for.
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Libreria Editrice Filippi
This historic shop near Campo Santa Maria Formosa focuses on all things Venice, with books both antique and new. Whether you’re curious about the language your gondolier was speaking, the high water you waded through to get here, or where to make your next dinner reservation, you’ll find something here for you. Franco Filippi, the current owner, is the grandson of the man who opened the store back in 1909. He is knowledgeable and passionate about Venetian history and he’ll be happy to point you in the way of a hidden treasure.
Libreria Marco Polo
Not far from the historic house of Marco Polo is the bookstore that carries his name. The shop specializes in kids’ books, but also stocks a carefully curated selection of books for adults. The shop also organizes talks and activities for young ones and grown ups alike, so be sure to check out the program listed on its door.
Libreria Marco Polo, Dorsoduro, 2899, 30123 Venezia +39 041 822 4843