While traveling, a good book should always be with you.
There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get when you step into a bookstore. You’re met with that new book smell, the crinkle of covers opening and pages turning, and you’re filled with the promise of words that could lead you on an epic adventure or change your life. While traveling, a good book should always be with you, and if you find yourself in Florence, Italy without one, head over to one of these bookstores where you’ll be sure to find that perfect literary companion.
The Paperback Exchange is a fantastic American bookstore, located not too far from the Duomo. The great thing about this bookstore is that (as the name suggests) they do exchanges, meaning you can bring in a book you’ve just finished, and exchange it for a new one! (The actual book will probably be used from multiple exchanges but it will be new in terms of content). They have options across multiple genres, so if you’re in the mood for a book on, say, Italian art, you won’t have trouble finding one. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, and while they don’t have seating or a café, it’s still a great option for any book-lover.
La Feltrinelli (RED)
La Feltrinelli is a lovely chain of bookstores and they have a few throughout Florence. The one located in Piazza della Repubblica however, is the best if you want to spend a lot of time browsing and/or reading. It’s also a great location for buying a book and taking it outside to read and people-watch. Inside, they have a great café with tons of seating and friendly staff, free Wi-Fi, and multiple levels full of books on every topic you could imagine. While they don’t have a huge selection of books in English, they usually have a lot of bestsellers and newer releases. There are always a decent amount of people hanging around, and it’s a great place to chat with some of the locals.
Black Spring Bookshop
Black Spring Independent Bookshop is an indie bookstore-lover’s dream. While the books they sell focus mostly on illustration, photography, and all things “underground,” they still have a decent English section. The real draw here is the atmosphere. We’re talking wood floors, brick walls, and lots of twinkle lights. There’s a cozy little café, a back patio for when it’s warmer, and they even have a corner section with a selection of vinyl. They also do special events and signings so make sure to watch out for those.
What do prisons and bookstores have in common? Not much unless you’re talking about Nardini Bookstore located near Santa Croce. Nardini is a part of the Le Murate complex, which used to be the old Florentine prison. Now it’s turned into a hip hangout with cafes, wine bars, art exhibits, you name it. With the bookstore being in such a cultural hotspot, it hosts some great literary events, readings, and meetups. It’s a definite must-visit, even if you just want to browse and take in the amazing architecture of the place.
IBS is a massive two story bookstore selling anything from romance fiction, to art history, along with CDs, vinyl’s, and DVDs. Like La Feltrinelli, IBS is a chain with bookstores all over Italy (think Italian Barnes and Nobel). They’re always having great sales, and while their English section isn’t huge, it’s still quite large compared to other shops. There’s a café you can chill at with a book or two, and they always seem to be hosting awesome events and book signings. If you have any gently used books you don’t want anymore, IBS will buy them, though don’t expect to get full price for them.