4 April, 2024

5 special places to read (or buy) books in Milan

Ph Sara Cudanov Via Unsplash 

In the city that is home to the main Italian publishing houses, Milan, long-time cultural centre and cradle of writers of the calibre of Dario Fo and Alessando Manzoni, there are many places where you can by and read books, and not just the ‘usual’.

In addition to the classically designated places – such as independent bookshops and chains of large groups, libraries and book corners – it is not uncommon to come across less predictable (but no less poetic) places along the streets of the city centre, to read and buy books.

From street kiosks to “literary wine bars” and from co-working bistros to antique printing houses where craftsmanship knowledge meets the art of bookbinding, discover our five favourite places to buy or thumb through books in the centre of Milan.

1) Il chiosco di Via Dante (the Via Dante Kiosk) 

Antique books, rare works, first editions, paperbacks. The bookseller in Via Dante is not just one of the last of its kind of the many “baracchine” (as they are commonly called), or kiosks, that dotted the city centre, but also an outpost of culture and common memory. In an environment of a just few meters, in fact, is space for centuries of history of Italian and international publishing. If you’re looking for rarities and deals, a visit to this area is a must!

2) L’Osteria dellUtopia

Organic dishes with Km 0 ingredients together with a painstaking literary collection: the offering of this small restaurant at Via Vallazze 34 is very tasty. Not only a classic restaurant but a place to satisfy mind and body with the second hand books (as well as top-quality poetry and prose!). Alongside books on psychology, sociology, anthropology and political science are books on art and photography, design and cinema, as well as manuals dedicated to the animal and vegetable world. And among the remainders and bits of modern design, it’s not uncommon to find out of print gems. 

3) Open – More than books

“Home feeling” atmosphere and a sufficiently large and welcoming space to host meeting rooms, a terrace and bistro which are the jewels in the crown of this location at Via Monte Nero 6, hybrid between bookshop, co-working and event space. Here it’s possible to thumb through as many printed volumes as digital volumes (through tablet or e-reader) and enjoy a tranquil moment of reading in an armchair. Among the courses and workshops of the busy calendar of events are also free appointments: keep an eye out! 

4) Di Vini in Versi

At number 4 Piazza Rosa Scolari is a small “literary wine shop” with is also a space dedicated to workshops, cultural and recreational evenings and tasting events. A place “where strangers meet and feel at home”, to paraphrase the website, with books – in particular those dedicated to the wine and food world – as a connecting theme. But this location also offers “blind” book exchange, with books packaged and ready to be taken, returned un-opened based on an evocative phrase. Because a good read is a pleasure to share!

5) Fratelli Bonvini 

At Via Tagliamento 1, in the spaces of an antique print shop from 1909, in what was the hall dedicated to book binding, today holds a book shop with a selection of unusual titles, given to different fields such as graphics and architecture, calligraphy and children’s illustrations.  They are “books for all”, as the shop window says – from small publishers, limited editions and monotype prints – linked by an important theme, that is writing. And in the adjacent “workshop space”, frequented by designers, graphic artists and all types of artists, it’s possible to reproduce their works with various typographic techniques (such as etchings on linoleum).