You wouldn't read about it / by Mario Mirabile

Libreria Alta Acqua may not be the oddest bookshop in the world, but it's probably up there. It's almost certainly the oddest bookstore in Venice. Tucked away on a hard to find back street, it's well worth looking out if you're in the area. The jovial owner sits perched at the register greeting and chatting with each potential customer as they enter. If you're lucky one of the resident cats will be there to greet you as well. It sells a huge and eclectic variety of books, mostly, but by no means all, in Italian.

What makes it odd? Well, where do I start. Perhaps it's the gondola full of reading material which runs most of the length of the main room, but this is Venice after all. Perhaps it's the bathtubs full of books scattered here and there - very handy in case of flood I suppose, as would be the gondola. Perhaps it's their way of sorting books by tossing them into unreachable locations on top of already teetering piles, cursing, then tossing them back till they stick if they dare to fall (all the while with a cigarette dangling from the corner of your mouth). Perhaps it's the staircase constructed of old and weighty tomes in the courtyard which customers are encouraged to climb so they can admire the canal on the other side of the wall (can you imagine the health and safety issues this would raise in Australia????). Perhaps it's a bit of all of it. You wouldn't read about it - but you just did.

P.S  I found out today that I should have checked out the book sorter's interesting collection of erotica. Sadly, I'm now on the other side of the country and not likely to return soon.