There is a long liaison between Venice and its bookshops, which began with the invention of large-scale printing in the 15th century, when well over half of the books written in all of Europe were published in the lagoon capital. Let's go and discover its most beautiful bookshops and the history of the "Venetian" publishing houses.
Libreria Studium by The Merchant of Venice
The bookshop, located a few meters from Piazza San Marco and opened in 2022 by The Merchant of Venice, is inspired by the great Venetian explorers and the city’s trade with the Far East. Thanks to the brand created by Marco Vidal, in the bookstore, which also houses the original Olfactory Library, we can find, in particular, publications on the art of perfumery and the Venetian manufacturing tradition. Do not miss the books created in collaboration with Linea d’acqua, one of the few publishing houses that still prints in the Lagoon, such as the delightful Le Petit Livre du Maquillage à Venise by Joan Giacomin, which tells the secrets of the history of Venetian make-up, or Vidal 120, the monograph dedicated to the heritage of the homonymous family that created the first perfume museum in Italy. Obviously in Venice.
Also worth a visit is the Linea d’acqua bookstore and art gallery, located in Calle della Mandorla in San Marco, the best-stocked antiquarian bookshop in Venice, specializing in valuable antique and first editions, maps and views of Venice by the great Venetian masters.
Studium promotes the Venetian literary culture and, in particular, its antique perfume art through a large catalog of international titles and olfactory training with the Perfume Workshops.
(Marco Vidal, CEO The Merchant of Venice)
Libreria Acqua Alta
Often cited among the most beautiful bookshops in the world, it is located in Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa, and was created in the early 2000s by Luigi Frizzo who, after a life of travel and adventures, chose Venice to give a home to his passions. By chance, the stroke of genius: high water (acqua alta in Italian) becomes a problem for the store and so Luigi uses boats and bathtubs abandoned in nearby buildings to lay down the books and thus prevent them from getting wet every time. Years go by and unintentionally these original furnishings become a unique feature of the shop that has made it one of the most “Instagrammed” places in the world.
Here you will find many rare books and, in particular, sections dedicated to Luigi’s passions: Steiner and esotericism, comics, cats and thinkers of every era, the history of Venetian palaces. The latter is a theme well explored by Marsilio Arte, a publishing house based in Venice in Santa Marta, led by the De Michelis family and today part of the Feltrinelli group, which has published wonderful books such as An invitation to Venice, a “secret” look at the most beautiful rooms and private buildings in the lagoon city told by Servane Giol with the amazing photographs of Mattia Aquila.
The library is a magical place to escape from the world and chase our dreams, serving Truth and Beauty.
(Luigi Rizzo, founder Libreria Acqua Alta)
Mare di Carta
Located in the Fondamenta dei Tolentini near the Santa Lucia station and opened by Cristina Giussani in 1997, it is the only bookshop, which is also a publisher, in Venice (there are only three others in Italy) specializing in the theme of travel, maritime history, nautical topics and any tale of sea or water.
Here we can only find books dedicated to Corto Maltese, sailor and gentleman of fortune par excellence created by the Venetian Hugo Pratt, the legend of comics elevated to an art form. Do not miss the book Favola di Venezia, in which Corto lives a fascinating adventure between dream and reality, and Corto Sconto. Corto Maltese’s guide to hidden Venice, published by Rizzoli Lizard and written by Guido Fuga and Lele Vianello, historical collaborators of the writer who knew Pratt well, published for the first time in 1997 and re-edited in 2022.
And if you feel like taking a rest in a bookshop, the right address is Sullaluna, in the heart of Cannaregio along Fondamenta della Misericordia, a small bohemian bookshop & bistro perfect for breakfast or an aperitif while enjoying the last rays of sun of a “literary” Venetian afternoon.
The only bookshop entirely dedicated to the sea, in a city that would never have existed without water, Venice.
(Cristina Giussani, founder Mare di Carta)