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It is captivating to go to a book store that has titles in foreign languages. All you can do is gaze around, sift through the pages and wonder if you will ever know what is written them. 
 
I visited several bookshops in Italy, some in passing, some to wile away time, some to purchase a title or two (in English). 
 
Out of all of the ones I visited, I have tried to compile a list of three of my favourite book stores. Each store had a uniqueness of its own of course with a great collection of books not only in Italian but also in English.
 
Libreria Perfetto In Perugia


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 when I entered, so I gave it the name of Perfetto (perfect) book store, because it came to me at a perfect timing. 

Perfetto is one of those book shops that have no atmosphere but you just have to visit it to know it. And I guess that was the beauty of this place. A huge carton of second hand books in the front with many titles in English welcomed me at the door. The entire shop was filled with numerous books in no particular order or genre. Totally random. Not one of those organized stores. I obviously visited each and every corner to see the books, to smell them. I wanted to let a book find me more so because there were no labels or directions to help you. I found Tim Parks Italian Neighbors for only EUR 2 lying in one of the cartons at the side. It was a steal and I could not miss buying it.


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 could but to my dismay the book was torn and some of the pages were missing. I moved to another shelf and found myself beaming. An old copy of Jan Morris’s Venice was crying out to me. It was time to bargain. The owner was a bit shy to speak because he did not know English but he did try and explain me his point and we settled at EUR 4. It was such a fulfilling moment! Wander the streets of Perugia just behind Palazzo dei Priori and you might chance upon this gem of a store.

 – Libreria Zubboli in Assisi:
 
Libreria Zubboli is situated in the centre of Assisi, in Piazza del Commune. A small and compact store with an considerable collection of books and a huge collection of stationary, Libreria Zubboli has been around since the year 1870. 
 
When I entered the store to escape some of the heat of Assisi, I saw historical books and printed handmade paper on the left hand side. A huge collection of titles on Umbria greeted me on the right in several languages. 
A chic Italian lady in a pretty yellow dress welcomed me with a smile. She asked me if I had any special titles in mind and in my broken Italian I asked her to show me the section of Italian literature in English. I knew I was just there to browse around and I did just that. I sifted through the pages of Italian titles to see what was there for me.  After a while the lady came up to me and asked, “non vuoi comprare qualcosa?” (You do not want to buy something?) I politely refused, I told her had read several of the English titles already and the others seemed a tad costlier. She seemed a little disappointed but managed a smile. loved the calm of those 20 minutes that I spent in the Zubboli. The handmade paper and exquisite stationary will always be part of my memory in wonderful Assisi.


To know more about Zubboli check here.

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 writer- James Joyce and poet- Umberto Saba. I was not aware of Caffe San Marco until I read about Trieste. I also had no knowledge of it being a book store either. So when I was visiting, I took it to be just another of the famous caffes of Trieste (and there are many) 

To my surprise and delight, I found half of the Caffe turned in a book store. Incorporated only in 2013, the book store was pristine, set in ornate wood work and chandeliers. 

It had a wide range of titles but only 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. The cost of translations was very high and according to her it is 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 of the place. So 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 while drinking my coffee. It was surreal.

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. I told her that that book was on my wishlist since months. It was such a sweet gesture from her side. I was overjoyed to find a book that I wanted in my hands and that too from a book store in Trieste. It completed my travel of the city in a special way.

Check more on San Marco here to know about its book readings and other programmes.

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