Alongside its ice cream and tramezzino sandwiches, Turin’s has the vibrant soul of a bookish city.
29 May 2020
An old book is a creature in its own right, one that looks good on its very own shelf. The patina of time attracts, which is why many people spend their lifetime searching for first editions and rare items. The world of antiquarian books is a labyrinth of booksellers on the lookout for rarities and oddities.
Turin is the beating heart of Italy’s publishing industry. The city also has a number of antiquarian bookstores recognized by the Association of Italian Antiquarian Booksellers all over town.
The most impressive? Here are five you won’t want to miss.
Libreria antiquaria Le Colonne – Via Mombasiglio.
The Le Colonne Bookshop first opened its doors in 1991, its name reflecting the fact that the original store surrounded two columns on a porticoed street in the centre of Turin. People come to this warm, family-style place to browse old, unusual, curious, rare, strange, foreign, exotic and esoteric books.
This antiquarian bookstore’s mission is “to save” books. In particular, books of great content in poor condition that – in theory – nobody wants but which deserve at least one more reader.
Libreria antiquaria Gilibert – Galleria Subalpina.
The Gilibert antiquarian bookshop was founded in 1992 by Alfredo Gilibert, a passionate bibliophile and volcanic collector of all kinds of paper-based antiquarian items.
Spanning two floors, the bookshop looks out onto the splendid Galleria Subalpina in the heart of Turin, between Piazza Castello and Piazza Carlo Alberto, a stone’s throw from the Royal Library, the Egyptian Museum and the Museum of the Risorgimento.
The Gilibert antiquarian bookshop runs small-scale cultural initiatives, including exhibitions, book presentations and debates related to the world of “bibliophilia” and “bibliomania”. In addition, the Gallery periodically publishes a printed catalogue of selected rare books.
Libreria antiquaria Atlantis – Via dei Mille.
Founded in 1999, the Atlantis Antiquarian Bookshop mainly handles research and trade in old books and manuscripts, with a special focus on the occult sciences, alchemy, esotericism and studies of tradition.
Like the antiquarian bookshops listed above, Atlantis is a member of the Associazione Librai Antiquari d’Italia. It is also a member of the ILAB (International League of Antiquarian Booksellers).
In addition, the Atlantis bookshop occasionally publishes themed-based catalogues, and is a regular at the most important antiquarian fairs.
Studio Bibliografico Giorgio Maffei – Via San Francesco da Paola.
Giorgio Maffei was an extraordinary rare book collector and merchant who set up a major Bibliographic Studio in the centre of Turin. This location continues to specialize in the history of publishing and, in particular, the nexus between publishing and the art world.
Giorgio Maffei’s Bibliographic Studio specializes in original texts by members of twentieth-century artistic and literary avant-gardes, including historic works from the beginning of the century, classic Futurist, Dadaist, Abstract and Surrealist works, and later stylistic upheavals from leading lights of artistic renewal in the latter half of the century.
Libreria antiquaria Il Cartiglio – Via Po.
Founded in 1985 by Roberto Cena and Elsie Deferre, Il Cartiglio offers valuable antiquarian books and prints, manuscripts, Neapolitan gouaches and watercolours, ancient maps and historical documents.
The Gallery has long participated at major Italian fairs and Turin’s biennial antiquarian exhibitions. But that’s just part of the story. Last year, the bookshop attended the 59th Antiquarian Book Fair of New York.
Where to stay in Turin.
For your tour of antiquarian bookshops in this Magical City of history and mystery, stay in the heart of Turin at the Gruppo UNA Principi di Piemonte | UNA Esperienze property. Why? Because this historic hotel is plum in the city centre, for a luxurious stay at a privileged downtown location. In an imposing rationalist style building, it’s one of Turin’s architectural jewels.