It is a sad fact that many of the small independent bookstores in Italy have closed: Panton’s and the Melting Pot in Milan are closed or are closing as I post this blog. The English Book Vaults in Catania has closed, as well.
Larger stores, carrying more options, e-books and the ever dwindling number of readers who seek English books in Italy have all conspired to pressure the smaller businesses out.
Below is a selective list of the bookstores offering books and magazines, in most cases, in English. These are a few of my favorites. For those of us who will be in Italy and who have a deep passion for books and reading, read on.
I believe that my readers will have some understanding of what it is like to live as an expatriate in a foreign country. Florence’s expat community is very active and Paperback Exchange is at the heart of that community. What started as a jumbled used book stores has become a delight to explore. Shelves are clearly and well organized, used student copies of many textbooks and reference materials are available in the store and the owner are always willing to order a special title for you.
The owners, Emily Rosner, from New York , Maurizio Panichi, a Florentine, and their son Jacopo operate their business with passion and great humor.
The store is located around the corner from the Duomo of Florence and just across the small intersection of Via dello Studio and Via delle Oche. A famous landmark delicatessen, Pegna, is across the intersection from the bookstore.
I have shopped in this wonderful store for many years. My first encounter was during my long summer of 2001 when I lived in the city to write my first book. Since then, I’ve followed them to Via delle Oche and have shared the store with many of our guests during our small group explorations of Italy.
Even if you are not in the market for a book while in the city, please plan on visiting one of the treasures of bella Firenze; Paperback Exchange.
Via delle Oche, 4R
Tel: +39 055 293460
9.00 to 7.30 pm
10.30 to 7.30 pm.
Open Door Bookshop
Trastevere, my favorite neighborhood of the city, is a complex muddle of streets. This area of the city, on the ‘other side of the Tiber’ (Trastevere in Italian), was where Romans lived during the medieval era. As Rome fell to further demise during the Western Schism, this area of town was the ‘heart’ of the city.
Today, the neighborhood is a bustling, active area for the arts, students at the universities in the city and for tourists who seek a more authentic sense of a ‘true’ Rome.
Amidst this jumble of buildings and narrow streets is the Open Door Bookshop. I sought convenient shelter there a few years ago during a deluge and felt immensely fortunate to have discovered this treasure of a bookstore.
Shelf after shelf of volumes are an enticement for hours of discovery. The shop keepers are always available to assist in any way.
Next time you are in Rome, take some time to discover this paradise for bibliophiles.
Hours: Monday – Saturday 10:30AM – 8:00PM
The University of Bologna dominates this gorgeous city. San Petronio, the duomo and the many other fascinating sites attract a large number of English speaking toursits each year. For those who seek English books in the city, I have a few recommendations with limited in-stock books printed in English – as written or in translation. If you go to these beautiful stores, you can certainly ask one of the clerks for assistance (they all speak excellent English).
Libreria Feltrinelli: Huge bookstore, primarily in Italian with limited English titles. This location is about a six minute walk from Bologna Centrale station.
(The name says it all. This is a huge store, about five minute’s walk from the Piazza Maggiore in city center, Bologna)
Hours: Monday – Saturday 9:00AM – 8:00PM and Sunday 10:00AM – 8:00P:M
This lovely bookstore carries the most diverse selection of English titled books in the city of Venice. Located conveniently close to the Ca Forscari University, the bookstore’s staff is very well educated in their selection of such books. You can also special order as you may wish. There are three of these bookstores in Venice, numbered 1, 2 and 3. Enjoy!
Sestiere Dorsoduro, 3224
I wrote a blog post about this lovely small bookshop, located not far from the train station in Lucca, a few weeks ago. While the majority of books are in Italian, you may order books as you wish for pick up from the booksellers at the shop.
Pliney the Elder and his son, Boccaccio, Dante, Machiavelli, Keats, Browning, Forster and numerous others have written of Italy over the centuries. I believe that attention must be made to both the rich and diverse writing history of the country as well as to the places where the authors works are available to purchase, read and add to our personal libraries.