I love reading books so I love to spend time browsing bookshops to discover new titles and authors. Also in Venice, I can’t resist entering each bookstore I pass.
You can find a wide variety of bookshops all over the city. Most offer a broad range of genres, while others focus on a specific audience such as children or collectors. In this post, I will share my favourite places in Venice to buy a book.
This small bookshop annex bar in Cannaregio is the latest addition to my list. Francesca Rizzi started it in November 2017 to stimulate children to read more. She sells children’s books and graphic novels for adults. Most books are in Italian, but the English section will be expanded in the future. It’s the type of shop where I can’t leave without buying at least one book. Sullaluna is a very welcoming place where you immediately feel at home. The books are piled on the tables, on shelves against the walls and in a large bookcase. You can also take a seat to relax with a drink, such as their own biological prosecco Lunatico, while being surrounded by books. It might not look like a typical bookshop but don’t hesitate to enter.
(Fondamenta de la Misericordia 2535, Cannaregio)
Focusing primarily on non-Italian readers, this bookstore is located in one of the crowded streets around San Marco. The shop actually resembles Venice. The corridors are quite narrow with plenty of books on tables and on the bookshelves, so it sometimes feels overcrowded. Studium has a wide collection of travel guides and books on Venetian art and architecture. There is also a large choice of novels in Italian, English, French and German. The section for children is mainly in Italian. There, you could for instance buy the Italian version of Geronimo Stilton on his adventure in Venice (Il mistero della gondola di cristallo) as a gift for your (grand)children. This might arouse an early passion for Venice and the Italian language. Or you can buy it for yourself, as I did, for your collection of Venice related books (more inspiration via my books tag).
(Calle Larga 337, San Marco)
The large bookshop in Dorsoduro dates from 1933 and is situated near the Ca’Foscari University. They sell a lot of classics and historical books, but also new books and bestsellers. The sections on Venice and with English, French, German and Spanish novels is smaller but you still have plenty of choice. La Toletta also publishes its own titles. I used to visit the shop on every visit to Venice to buy a bilingual Italian/English book. These are perfect to learn the Italian language. You can choose from a variety of classic stories or tales, such as ‘Le avventure di Alice nel paese delle meraviglie‘. There is plenty of space to look at books without disturbing other clients, so there’s no need to rush. La Toletta often participates in cultural events, such as the Art Night, where you can meet authors or attend a lecture.
(Sacca de la Toletta 1213, Dorsoduro)
The MarcoPolo bookshops can be found on Campo Santa Margherita and on Giudecca. The first one has a more traditional look, whereas the Giudecca branch is more recent and modern looking. They sell books from independent publishers, in Italian and some in English, as well as my favourite map of Venice. In Giudecca, you can also find second-hand books and rare publications. Prior to your visit, you can search the catalog online or read their book reviews (in Italian). The MarcoPolo team regularly organizes lectures, writing or photography courses in the shops. They also pay a lot of attention to design, as you will notice from the beautiful display in the shops and the stunning artwork of the quote ‘Don’t look for love, look for books’ on bookmarks and totebags.
(Campo Santa Margherita 2899, Dorsoduro – Fondamenta Ponte Lungo 282, Giudecca)
This is without doubt the most photographed bookshop in Venice. Just think about books in a gondola, an outside staircase made of books or an open door with a fire exit sign pointing to a canal. I’m sure you have already come across these pictures. The shop has not only a wide variety of books on Venice. You can also find fiction, history, classics, sports and even an adults-only section. It’s really fun to browse the huge piles of books which reach the ceiling and replace the bookcases. You will be surprised by the treasures you can find in this structured chaos. I have for instance bought a Venetian version of The Little Prince (El Principe Picenin) to add to my collection of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry books. Acqua Alta was also included in my post ‘Castello: Mark these hidden gems on your Venice map’.
(Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa 5176B, Castello)
If you are interested in antique books (from the 16th to the 21st century) or old and rare publications about the Republic of Venice, this will be your favourite spot. In line with the books they sell, the store looks very delicate. Libreria Emiliana is the oldest bookshop in Venice. It started around 800 as a printer for the Venetian publisher Ferdinando Ongania. You can consult the catalog of all books and engravings online, so you don’t even have to go to Venice to browse and order them. Following a tip from Iris of La Venessiana, I visited the shop for the first time earlier this year. I didn’t buy anything there yet, but I’m certainly tempted to do so.
(Calle Larga Prima 2941, San Polo)
Casetta dei Libri
This is not a bookshop as such, but a place where you can exchange your own books. The small wooden box, in the shape of a house i.e. casetta, hangs against a tree at the entrance of the Parco delle Rimembranze in Sant’Elena. It contains books which are placed there by passers-by. When you take a book, you are supposed to put another one in return. The collection is therefore continuously changing and very varied. I always take a look inside when I pass it. I have already seen many Italian books, but also German and English novels. It was recently vandalized so I hope they will leave it there in the future. It’s so different from all the commercial initiatives in the city. For me, it’s a strong symbol of sharing between people who don’t know each other.
(Parco delle Rimembranze, Sant’Elena)
Sadly, one of my favourite book ‘shops’ is no longer there. Franco ‘Libri’ Teardo used to sell books from his boat along Campo San Barnaba. The second-hand books were displayed on the ground where you had to kneel down to browse them. Unfortunately, he passed away earlier this year.
If you can’t get enough of books or don’t want to spend money, you can also go to one of the stunning libraries in Venice to borrow a book (more info in my post ‘‘7 authentic libraries that will amaze you in Venice’).
Enjoy the reading!
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