The secret of Libreria Acqua Alta
Many have written about Libreria Acqua Alta being the most beautiful bookshop in the world. But how did it become it? We met its “creator“: Luigi Frizzo, from Vicenza, a citizen of the world and Venetian by adoption, a life spent pursuing his passions with that freedom of heart that only the pure, the brave, children and the foolish possess.
The desire to get to discover the world soon leads him to embark in Genoa and visit the most distant countries: Polynesia, Egypt, the East; getting to know many different cultures through his extensive traveling. He pursues dreams, emotions, women, and adventures.
For love, he stops in many different “ports” and it is in the Aosta Valley that his life changes forever. He helps his partner who runs a bookshop and a doctor friend introduces him to the fascinating world of Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner, the Austrian esotericist and theosophist, founder of anthroposophy. He begins to read with voracious passion and goes deeper and deeper into topics such as anthropology, philosophy, travel literature, and his heroes, primarily Hugo Pratt and Corto Maltese.
But from women and from love, you know, sometimes you also run away. This is how Luigi decides to leave the Aosta Valley and live in Venice where he opens his first bookshop. Isn’t Venice, in fact, the perfect city for dreamers and gentlemen of fortune?
The rest of the story of Luigi and the Acqua Alta bookshop is a succession of randomness: he did not know to like cats so much until he agrees to do a favor to a friend who was supposed to bring him just one. Three arrive and it is the beginning of a new love story. There are many cats, in fact, that today live in the library and take a nap on books and shelves. The “queen” is Dominique, the beautiful black cat who looks at us with her magnetic yellow eyes, the reincarnation of who knows which queen from the past.
High water becomes a problem for the bookstore and so Luigi uses boats and abandoned bathtubs from neighboring buildings to lay the books and thus avoid them getting wet every time. Years go by and unwittingly these original furnishings become a distinctive feature of the store. And the most instagrammed staircase on the web? Luigi was sorry to throw away the precious encyclopedias damaged by high water and so he decided to build a staircase with them in order to be able to see, from the back of the library, the famous “Corte Sconta detta Arcana” in which Hugo Pratt sets the adventures of Corto Maltese.
Here you will find many rare books and, in particular, fantastic sections dedicated to Luigi’s passions: Steiner and esotericism, comics, Venice, cats, and thinkers of all ages and creeds. Today it is his son Lino who manages this magical place, certainly one of the most incredible in the world.
Perhaps the greatest gift that a visit to the Bookshop can give you is to learn its secret, which Luigi seems to have understood so well: do not care about the world around you, just pursue your dreams, serving Truth and Beauty, and the universe will answer you.