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Barbaria de le Tole and Libreria Acqua Alta

a large brick building

Barbaria de le Tole

a narrow city street with old buildings in the background

This street is Barbaria de le Tole, which is where tree trunks would be worked and fashioned into wooden tables or ‘Tole’ in Venetian. The origin of the name is rather bizzarre and still disputed. Some say that Barbaria was a playful word used by workers who compared themsevles to barbers trimming the fuzzy splinters of the raw wooden logs. Others claim Barbaria comes from the fact that centuries ago a great number of these wooden boards would be shipped to the modern states of MaroccoAlgeria and Tunisia, often referred to as Barbarian lands.

Libreria Acqua Alta

a book shelf filled with books

Walking along the Barbarie de le Tole, you’ll flank a small courtyard with an overflow of bookstands spilling out of Venice’s most curious second-hand bookshop; the Acqua Alta, which refers to the high water that floods many of Venice’s streets in winter time. The theme is clear from the start, as in the middle of the first room is a full size gondola layered with books. Also, of growing interests among visitors, is the staircase made out of books which gives onto the canal. If you see a cat or two jump on a precarious pile of books, don’t be alarmed, they are of course part of the scenery. The selection of books is wide, from literaturepoetry, and local history to vintagecomics, and photography, with a great number in various foreign languages.

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