Posts Tagged "bookstore"

Searching Among the Stacks and Finding Florence

Posted by on Sep 30, 2015 in Book-It List & Reviews, In The News | 0 comments

This young woman’s wonderful essay captures the role indie bookstores play in defining communities around the world – and make us very proud to be part of what makes Frenchtown Frenchtown.   Searching Among the Stacks and Finding Florence by Cathryn Piwinski The conceptualization of Florence within American minds consists of two primary characteristics: packed with exceptional art and filled with delicious food. The American education system teaches its students that Italy, specifically Florence, was the creative hub of the European Renaissance, marking it as a city rich in towering architectural achievements, breath-taking statues, and meticulous frescos. Likewise, the love affair with appropriated Italian food – pasta, tomato sauce, pizza, olive oil, gelato – causes Americans to idealize Italy as the land of plenty, the land of delicious, delectable, and desirable food, the land whose menu all other nations should aspire to imitate. However, while these two aspects remain essential to Florentine culture, moving to Florence and witnessing firsthand how it operates daily has shown me that there are more intricacies within this city’s life than I had initially thought. The architectural accomplishment of the Duomo and the equally valued culinary accomplishment of a perfectly made cappuccino do indeed factor into daily life in Florence, but life is not limited to nearly that. After living in this city for nearly four weeks, I am still recognizing and learning to adapt to these other factors of Florence living through the use of a particular establishment that is in no short supply here: the bookstore. Adjusting to a new city, especially after fully adapting to life in the ever-active New York City, proved to be quite the challenge for me. I arrived in Florence with the anticipation that I would see every piece of art and eat every piece of food that the city had to offer – after all, those were the main characteristics I was raised to expect from Florence. After about a week of living here, however, I learned that I had been anticipating Florence as a tourist, not as an inhabitant. Living in this city for three and a half months meant experiencing smaller day-to-day moments at local cafes, stores, and piazzas, and carving out some moments of my own, which proved to be a challenge. To meet this challenge, a friend of mine who studied abroad in Berlin a few semesters prior advised that I search for local places that would obviously be new to me, but nonetheless recognizable and therefore eventually comfortable. The English major that I am inevitably settled on bookstores and bookshop cafés, which seem to be in no short supply in Florence and even connect with the art and the food that is so often praised in Italy. I began feverishly searching for places that met my conditions, which provided me with the newfound bravery to duck into any building that boasted hard covers and paperbacks in its windows. In this search, I found treasures and places of sanctuary, such as the Feltrinelli in the Piazza della Reppublica, the Paperback Exchange, and Todo Modo; but I also discovered the perfect way to begin connecting with life in Florence. Sitting back in the quiet atmosphere of a bookstore or library with my book let me observe and listen to Florentine exchanges and conversations. Ironically, in these places, a language I do not yet understand, in both the spoken and printed form, surrounds me, but it still seems that I am nonetheless able to connect with the city. Through my experiences within these bookstores, through the moments I have witnessed of Florentine life, I...

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