In October, I had the absolute pleasure of spending my birthday in Italy. We visited Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, Como, Bellagio and Turin… and it was probably the best 11 days of my life, even though right now it almost feels like one beautiful dream.
Venice was my favourite. Words cannot describe how charming it is, from its water canals to its narrow cobblestone streets and old houses and gondolas… I was and still am absolutely in love. Our hotel was right on the Grand Canal, and we had the most amazing view from our balcony.
We went off the “beaten path”, so to say. Though we explored the typical tourist sites like the Doge Palace and Piazza San Marco and most of the popular bridges, we found ourselves trudging through empty alleyways and stepping inside the loveliest shops, filled with carnival masks and calligraphy pens and inks and… sigh.
We got lost there several times, reaching dead ends and having to backtrack to find the right route. We found a small shop that sold the most delicious pasta-to-go and sat down to eat it on a bridge, warming our hands and chowing down our food.
We got caught in some rain and had to take shelter in crowded corners with other people who had ventured out without umbrellas. And we stumbled upon a bookshop proclaiming to be the Most Beautiful Bookshop in the World.
And you know what, it just might be.
You are greeted by a doorway overcast with trees. There’s a bargain “basket” hanging from a tree branch, and a wheelbarrow laden with good deals. You walk past all that into what is literally book heaven. Shelves upon shelves stacked with books, from floor to ceiling. The air heavy with the smell of books, old and new. The shop owner sits behind his table, and there’s a big ol’ cat sitting on the counter. Tried to snap a picture of her but she wouldn’t look at me, haha.
In the middle you find an actual gondola sitting there in the middle of the shop, filled to the brim with books, with two mannequins standing guard. There are just stacks… everywhere. There wasn’t a wall that wasn’t covered by books. I was feeling very, very overwhelmed.
Then we stepped into one of the shop’s courtyards and… well, damn. This is really a “picture-is-better-than-a-thousand-words” situation so I’ll just leave this here:
Have you seen anything more beautiful? I mean… this was probably the most postcard-worthy sight I’ve ever seen, and I just wanted to sit among the books forever, but of course there were many other tourists who wanted their turn too. Still, I ended up finding another lovely courtyard that wasn’t receiving as much attention.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find any English books there, and seeing as I don’t know Italian, I was forced to walk out of that place empty-handed. Now I wish I’d bought one as a souvenir. Any book from these piles and shelves would have done!
Two months later, and I still dream about this country. Venice pops up most of the time. I hope to go back again some day. I still have stories to tell about this trip, but I’ve been so busy lately. Plus, since I came back I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep. I swear I feel like a zombie most days. Just on auto-pilot the entire time.
But ah well.
Have you been to Italy before? And if you have, did you visit this bookshop? What other beautiful bookshops have you been to? I want to make it a point to check out bookshops in every country I visit! 🙂