Libreria Perfetto is not the real name of this bookstore. Located in a narrow alley in Perugia, this old fashioned store had no name board, so I gave it the name of Perfetto (a perfect book shop) because it came to me at a perfect timing.
Perfetto is one of those book shops that has a stellar atmosphere but you just have to visit it to know it. There is a huge carton of second hand books at the entrance while the rest of the store was filled with numerous books in no particular order or genre. I went through each nook and corner of the store to feel and smell books. In a dusty corner, I found Tim Parks’ Italian Neighbors for only EUR 2. It was a steal!
Next I checked to see another shelf that had many titles in English. What caught my eye was Elizabeth Browning’s small book of poetry! Sigh! I quickly picked it up before someone else did but to my dismay the book was torn and some of the pages were missing. I moved to another shelf and found myself beaming because I saw an old copy of Jan Morris’s Venice. It was crying out to me. The owner was a bit shy to speak to me because he did not know English. Nevertheless he gave me a good price for the book. The bookstore was such a lovely find in the streets of Perugia.
– Caffe San Marco Bookstore in Trieste
Located on a quiet corner of Trieste in Via Cesare Battisti, Caffe San Marco is well known because of its connection to the writer James Joyce and poet Umberto Saba. I was not aware of Caffe San Marco until I read about Trieste. I did not know that it was in part a book store. Incorporated only in 2013, the book store was set in a huge hall with ornate wood work and chandeliers.
It had a wide range of titles in Italian but a few in English. The manager of the store was a lady who seemed to be in mid 40s. She was kind to enlighten me why the books in English were fewer since the cost of translations was very high and according to her it was always best to encourage the readers to first read in their language and then in a foreign one. So the only English books that were there were the ones that were already translated.
I was a little disappointed but I tried not to let this hamper my enthusiasm. I sat in their baroque black and white couch and ordered a coffee that Joyce drank when he frequented the place (I would like to call it the “Joyce Special”) I picked up a coffee table book on Roman history and browsed through it.
After an hour or so, the lady came to my desk telling me that she had a title in English that she thought I would like. She had brought a copy of “Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere”. I was open mouthed because that book had been on my wishlist since months. It was such a sweet gesture from her side and I bought my copy. It completed my travel of the city in a special way.