This was probably my favourite store in Italy. It’s inside an old church that has had its inside torn out and about 4 floors of books and restaurants installed. It’s a huge bookstore, with at least 3 restaurants – one for sandwiches, one for pasta, and one that is a wine bar (there may be another – I forget).
This place is Giorgio Armani to Barnes & Noble/Chapters/Indigo’s Ben Matlock. It is the essence of a very cool bookstore. It’s also not alone – these places are in multiple cities in Italy, and all deserve a visit. This being said, there are also tons of other bookstores in Bologna, many older and more historic than this, which also deserve a visit. This one just happened to be open – and most importantly – in Bologna, in the Summer – it was air-conditioned.
So I don’t care whether you can speak Italian or not (they have books in other languages as well) – just go, browse, and get a sense of what it’s like to live in a culture where books and the people who write them, are as revered as the rock stars – and no, by ‘books’, I don’t mean Harry Potter.
We just needed a snack, so we went to the main floor cafe which has long tables, serves tasty sandwiches, coffee, and cold drinks. There is free wi-fi through the city of Bologna’s free wi-fi service, but you’ll need a European mobile to sign up for it (I think). The pasta restaurant on the 2nd floor was full every time we came by, so obviously it does something right in the food department upstairs as well. And – it’s right around the corner from Venchi – meaning delicious gelato is just seconds away when you leave.
Via degli Orefici, 5
40124 Bologna, Bologne (Emilia Romagna), Italy
Tel: 051 22 01 31