2 August, 2023

6 must-see libraries in Milan 

biblioteche milano

Ph Marta Dzedyshko Via Pexels

In September, the “back to school” month, put away (or almost) summer vacations and en plein air locations, while places favoured by students and literature lovers of every epoch and type fill up: libraries.

Milan counts 22 local libraries in addition to another 25 outside of the city registry, self-managed by associations or parishes.

They are lively places of meeting and exchange, for studying, research, reading newspapers and magazines, but also to relax or participate in courses, events and cultural activities.

We have selected 6 of the best Ambrosian libraries for you by location, catalogue and history, from the first founded in a Milanese condominium – Solari – to the one in the building of the Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, up to the new Ostinata. Discover them here:

1) Biblioteca Venezia – Via Paolo Frisi 2/4

In central Porta Venezia, behind the liberty-style facade similar to the nearby Casa Galimberti and Casa Guazzoni (no less worthy of a visit!), is a small and prolific library whose walls correspond to the atrium of Cinema Dumont – among the first cinemas of Milan – with a rarefied and welcoming atmosphere. Reading rooms on the upper floor, in an intimate space with a homey flavour.

2) Ostinata – Via Osti 6

“We are obstinate in our desire to promote reading without barriers”, reads the welcome message on the website of Ostinata, the new library in the Missori area, rising in a historic building in the Università Statale area. With its versatile furnishings – like the tilting tables and modular bookshelves along the wall – this library “free and open to all”, whose reading room can easily be transformed into an event space – offers readers a collection of 4,000 works from volumes on History, Philosophy, Literature, Poetry and Social Science, as well as novels and comic books. 

3) Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense – Via Brera 28

Third library in Italy by number of volumes (that exceeds 1.5 million titles, neatly displayed on antique walnut wood shelves), the Braidense, founded by Maria Theresa of Austria, offers four reading rooms of rare beauty with frescoed ceilings and crystal chandeliers, and periodically organises exhibitions, events and guided tours to narrate its history rich in details and curiosities. 

4) Biblioteca della Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli (Library of the Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Foundation)- Via Pasubio 5

On the top floor of a building with great structural modernity like the one conceived by Swiss designers Herzon & de Meuron, counted among the major scientific, historic, political and socio-economic centres of Europe, is a large reading room with tall shelves whose cuneiform shape recalls the Library of Babel by Borges. The location – with an imposing catalogue of more than 200,000 volumes (not available for loan but for internal consultation only) – is also the centre of reading, projections and themed exhibitions.

5) Milano Fashion Library – Via Alessandria 8

There are more than 60,000 titles – from monographs, magazines, vintage issues, photographic books and lookbooks of past collections (from 1860 to the present) – in this jewel case that is the joy of fashion enthusiasts: located in Porta Genova, just steps from Naviglio, the Biblioteca della Moda (Fashion Library), is a glorious archive (to consult and check out with prior membership) on the history of the Fashion System and journalism of the sector of the past two centuries. An essential reference point for fashion designers and trend followers.

6) Biblioteca Solari – Via Solari 40

South-west of Milan, in the Solari area, the first “condominium library” of the Ambrosian city was born at the beginning of the last century in what was the neighbourhood bread bakery. Without library card and with generous lending times of the books, it is managed by the residents and enthusiasts of the complex and area, and counts more than 6,000 texts, as well as participating in BookCrossing and promoting various initiatives, from reading to the presentation of literary works.


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