The region of Tuscany can be found within the central part of the country of Italy. While the entire area is considered brilliant and worthy of a visit, many people stick with Florence. During my trip to Tuscany, I chose to find bookstores and other literary destinations in Florence. Yes, most of my discoveries were within Florence, but I did find a few gems in other parts of Tuscany, too.
I began my journey in Florence. The idea was to explore the attractions that were closer to each other before branching out to other area.
Black Spring came up first on my list of literary destinations in Florence. I had learnt that it’s a relatively new store. Hence, I didn’t hold out much hope since takes a bookshop a little time to find their niche. However, I was pleasantly surprised with their vast collection of different genres.
I sipped a cup of tea as I perused through books, trying to make up my mind which ones to buy. The best part of the store is the small café they have. I could see myself going back for one of their workshops or book presentations.
If you have a penchant for old books like me, you’d be thrilled to see the Paperback Exchange in Florence.
This shop opened back in 1979. Since that time, thousands of people have either exchanged books or purchased from the large selection of secondhand options. Their selection changes regularly, as the books are constantly being purchased and new books are continuously coming in as well.
After leaving the Paperback Exchange, I headed straight to the Duomo which is right in its proximity.
Next day, I ventured into one of the unique bookstores I have ever been into. Piccola Farmacia Letteraria aka little literary pharmacy offers a different experience to the bibliophiles.
I am always amazed at how much better I feel after reading a book or how my mood has changed for the worse after finishing a few.
The books in this stores have tags attached to them that warn people of how a book will affect them. You will be apprised of the side effects of each book you are considering.
I was thrilled with the children’s section there. If your kids love reading, this store will overwhelm you with its vast collection.
The next stop on my list of literary destinations in Florence was La Feltrinelli – a grand bookstore near the Piazza della Repubblica. On my way, I grabbed a cup of coffee from the cafe next to the store. I needed the caffeine before I could tackle the three huge floors filled with books.
You can totally get lost at this bookstore. I almost wished that I went into the smaller version over by the Pitti Palace and Ponte Vecchio.
Libreria Brac was a little difficult to find since it is on an isolated street. It is almost like the employees want to keep their location a secret so they can enjoy all the books themselves! However, since this is a vegetarian restaurant and café, plus an art space, almost everyone finds their way there eventually.
Most people follow the aroma of the food here but I kept my nose focused on the smell of books. There are books in all three sections, but I found the most in the bar area when I walked in.
At this point of my trip, I was scheduled to take a trip to Pisa. I was more interested in the bookstore there. Caffé Letterario Volta Pagina is an independent bookstore that allows you to enjoy a drink while you are looking at the selection of books. I grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down in the sitting room with a huge stack of books.
On my way back to Florence, I made a side trip to Arezzo. Yes, it was a little out of my way, but I was dying to see the inside of Libri Antichi e Rari. This entire store is filled with rare and hard to find books and while I was not looking for anything particular, the sheer collection had me amazed. I looked at the manuscripts and volumes from the 16th century and then spent another couple of hours looking at the rest of the private collection.
Before leaving Florence to return home, I wanted to see a couple of the libraries within the area. The first one was the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale de Firenze, which happens to be the largest library in Italy.
There are more than six million books within the library, and one needs to be in there for weeks to see them all! This library came into existence in 1714. Unfortunately, a major flood in 1966 damaged at least a third of the books.
The Marucelliana Library is another marvel I visited. Since its inception in 1752, it’s area has doubled. My guide told me they ran out of room for all the books they had on the shelves. He mentioned that the newer version is not as pretty, since they basically grabbed empty space from nearby areas and built walls and inserted windows. However, to me, it is still a book lover’s paradise!
My last stop was the Laurentian Library, which houses eleven thousand manuscripts, two thousand five hundred papyri, more than forty ostraca, over five hundred incunabula, more than fifteen hundred prints from the 16th century and over a hundred thousand prints from the 17th to 20th centuries.
I obviously didn’t see them all and no one does unless they keep visiting as the exhibits rotate.
My time in Florence and the rest of Tuscany came to an end quickly. During the trip, I met many extraordinary book lovers like myself and now have quite a few more contacts when I am searching for that next must-have book on my list.
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