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On our first full day in Venice, we passed three bookstores: a used bookstore, a modern one, and Libreria Emiliana, arguably the oldest bookstore in Venice. My son was being particularly rambunctious and so I just put my nose to the glass and watched a woman carefully spreading large antique maps on the floor and putting them in a certain order.
Because he loves me, and because parenting is a team sport, my husband said, I’ll take the monster on a quick walk around the block … you go inside. They left and I took a few photos of the outside and then lost my nerve.. He peeked back around the corner and raised his eyebrows: GO!
So I went inside.
Libreria Emiliana is easily the smallest bookstore I have ever been in, but every single book, sketch, map, or photograph is an antique. The woman working there asked me what I was looking for and I mumbled something about I just really love old books and pointed to the 1970s Children’s Christmas book I had picked up at the used bookstore we had found earlier.
That is not an antique, she said. I knew that, of course, but then I just felt stupid and wanted to leave. But by then my son was pressing his nose against the glass and kicking at the door, so I pretended I didn’t know them and walked to the back of the store.
What are you looking for? She asked me again. I said that I liked poetry and I would love to take home a book by a local poet. We searched through some shelves and thumbed through the thinnest pages I have ever felt!
We found the perfect little book of poems by Lodovico Pasto, written and published in Venice in the “natural dialetto” or Venetian dialect, and printed in 1822.
The lady that helped me find the book gave me her card with her email address in case I needed any help translating it and then wrapped that book up airtight in wrapping paper and put it in the cutest bag. My first antique book purchase!
Then I gave this woman a big, awkward hug! Here are some more photos from around the bookstore.
If you love books, I would definitely recommend stopping by Libreria Emiliana while in Venice. Even if you aren’t looking to purchase an antique, there are some really neat books and maps on display.
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