Following from my previous post where I talked about Venice’s cultural highlights, below is the overview of my literary exploration of Venice.
I. Studium Bookshop
This stylish bookshop, not far from St Mark’s Square, exceeded my expectations. It is packed with beautiful fiction and non-fiction books on many subjects, from travel guides and children’s fiction to Italian cook-books and illustrated marvels on Japanese art. There are also sections devoted to English, French and Spanish books, and the staff is very friendly. It is here that I bought my now-much-cherished Spanish-language edition of Italian classic The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni, and, as you can see from the photographs below, I was very impressed by this bookstore’s Corto Maltese section. Corto Maltese is a series of comic books by Hugo Pratt that talks about adventures of sailor Corto Maltese in the first and second decade of the twentieth century. One of those is titled Corto Maltese: Fable of Venice, and people also recommended to me the book The Secret Venice of Corto Maltese: Fantastic and Hidden Itineraries.
II. Pensione Wildner & Hotel Danieli
“I lodged on the Riva 4161 (now pensione Wildner), quarto piano. The view from my window was una bellezza; the far-shining lagoon, the pink walls of San Giorgio, the downward curve of the Riva, the distant islands, the movement of the quay, the gondolas in profile. Here I wrote, diligently every day and finished, my novel (Portrait of a Lady)”, Henry James in his notebooks
Pensione Wildner in Venice is a place where Henry James finished his most celebrated novel The Portrait of a Lady, about a free-spirited and intelligent young woman Isabel Archer who makes rather unforeseen life choices as she receives unexpected inheritance. The second half of the novel takes place in Italy. Next to Pensione Wildner is the lavish Hotel Danieli, built at end of the fourteenth and once a temporary residence of such literary giants as Proust and Balzac.
III. Acqua Alta Bookshop
Tucked away in the Castello area of the city, Acqua Alta claims to be “the most beautiful bookshop in the world”. Though this statement can be challenged, there is no denying that this bookshop is one of the most unusual and exciting bookshops out there. It is a very cosy and wondrous place filled with cats (though I only saw one during my visit), and old (second-hand) and new books on every topic under the sun. Some really nice bookish bargains can be made in this place, and I bought a lovely art book that talks about Vittore Carpaccio‘s masterpieces.
IV. Books Spotted/Bought
As I said above, I bought Manzoni’s book, an art book and some Corto Maltese books in Italian. What I did not expect to see in Italy was so much Japanese manga everywhere, and each Italian bookshop has so much “serious” variety of it, it left me awestruck: Fujiko Fujio, Osamu Tezuka, Katsuhiro Otomo, Satoshi Kon, etc., plus anime adaptations, you name it – they’ve got it, but not always in English, of course. Italian books of illustrations must be the most beautiful I have ever seen, and I also could not resist taking photos of some stunning Italian editions of Harry Potter.