“What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore, it knows it’s not foolin’ a soul.” ― Neil Gaiman, American Gods
We have a total of four bookstores within the walls of Orvieto’s historical center. A disproportionate number for a town of its size—they’re eclipsed only by the number of bars, restaurants, barbershops and underwear stores.
Unfortunately, over the last several decades the world has witnessed the long, slow death of the independent bookshop. Most blame the decline on the advent of superstores and later by the domination of online companies such as Amazon. In today’s digital-based world is there still a place for brick-and-mortar bookstores?
One former Dublin bookseller and regular visitor to Italy thinks there is. “I believe that bookstores will survive in some manner, shape or form; they are already evolving by offering customers comfortable cafes, other gift items and electronics, including access to digital books via their own websites, while remaining cultural hubs. Today I am a frequent traveller in search of independent bookstores wherever I go!”
Bookworms who visit Orvieto will be happy to know that there are two such ‘repositories of knowledge’ located not far off the main high street, but far from the maddening crowds.
Libreria Arcimboldo is a second-hand bookshop located on Via Filippeschi (between Piazza della Repubblica and the medieval quarter.) The little shop sells a fascinating mishmosh of art books, first editions, out of print titles, literature, poetry, old bibles, and even vinyl records.
Proprietor GianLuca Fioravanti wasn’t always passionate about books and reading. In high school he’d studied economics, but found the subject so tedious and boring that he almost gave up reading all together. “Then I ran across Kafka and Flaubert—two leading novelist of the last two centuries—I have not stopped reading since.” Changing to the study of philosophy opened him up to the worlds of art, history and poetry, as well.
Finding work in the literary field wasn’t easy so GianLuca took a series of jobs that helped him develop his people and trading skills. During that period he lived in Rome’s Trastevere district where he spent a great deal of time browsing neighborhood bookshops. He literally woke up one day and thought, “EUREKA! I will open a bookstore!” He chose Orvieto because it’s where his ancestors originated and because, “I think the city is gorgeous with many hidden treasures.”
One of those treasures is Libreria Arcimboldo.
Libreria Arcimboldo, Via Filippeschi, 16; Tel: (+39) 380.4757293; Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LibreriaArcimboldo/; Email: email@example.com. Open Tuesday – Sunday from 10:00am to 1:30pm & 4:00pm to 8:30pm. Closed Mondays.
Libreria Antiquaria Baduel
Mario Tedeschini’s love of reading began at age thirteen. Spending afternoons with his nose in a book from his parents’ library, he began cataloging each finished volume by subject and time of printing. In essence he’d drafted his first inventory—unaware that years later it would become his profession.
Mario started his career in 1997 with a bibliographic study in which he published a catalog of ancient books. In 2000, he opened Libreria Antiquaria Baduel on Via Vitozzi and, at about the same time, was certified as an expert authorized to issue opinions about the originality and market value of books, prints and manuscripts.
The oldest book in his possession at the moment was printed in 1561, but Mario points out that books aren’t necessarily deemed rare or valuable because of their age; rather they’re appraised for their historical significance or important subject matter.
“The engine that drives me to continue a job that is “out of step” with a digital world is dictated by the passion to discover rare editions or books virtually unknown,” Mario explains. “I am compelled by an irresistible impulse to study, observe and touch a book—where all the senses are involved. This passion is driven by cultural enjoyment and the desire to preserve history—not as a mere economic interest, since that would end all the magic that surrounds the world of books.”
Libreria Antiquaria Baduel, Via A. Vitozzi, 7/7A; Tel & Fax: (+39) 0763.342046; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: https://baduel.it; Winter hours: 9:30am to 1:00pm & 4:30 to 7:00pm. Closed Mondays. Summer Hours: 9:30 to 1:00pm & 5:00pm to 7:30pm. Closed Saturdays.