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Venice, Italy

Libreria Acqua Alta

This Venice bookstore has resigned itself to constant flooding by keeping its books in bathtubs and boats. 

Keeping a collection of books in a city where the roads are made of water is a dangerous idea to begin with, but Venice’s Libreria Acqua Alta has nothing to fear since they just keep all their titles in waterproof basins. 

The self-proclaimed “most beautiful bookstore in the world” is composed of a number of over-stuffed rooms stacked wall-to-wall with books, magazines, maps and other ephemera. Due to Venice’s constant flooding however, these picturesque piles are all placed inside bathtubs, waterproof bins, and in one room a full-size gondola. The name itself even means “Book Store of High Water.” When the local waterways do rise to fill the well-known store, it can rise inches off the floor, which would destroy any other collection. The store’s whimsically cramped atmosphere is even reflected in their “fire escape” which is simply a door leading directly out into a canal. To really complete the look, the store has become home to more than one stray cat which are also able to escape the rising tides by hanging out atop the stacks.