by Salvo Taranto
The elegance comes from a classic, timeless beauty, the long history prestige that sits among its shelves and the people who have set foot over the decades. Immense authors like Primo Levi, Jorge Amado, Allen Ginsberg, Philip Roth and Amos Oz. The International Luxemburg Library is located in one of the loveliest spots in Turin, between Piazza Carignano and Piazza Castello, a few steps from the Egyptian Museum. It is there since 1872, when it was opened as a branch of the Genovese Le Beuf: a date of birth that makes it one of the oldest libraries in the city. Later, a bookseller and publisher with a great flair, Francesco Casanova, took over the publishing of the first works of Verga and De Amicis.
The charm of this jewel is due to its originality, the characteristics that make it a unique place able to conquer the most demanding readers. In Turin, and not only that, the Luxemburg is the international library par excellence. Its second floor is dedicated entirely to fiction and non-fiction foreign. Inside, in addition, you can browse the most important newspapers in the world and magazines really untraceable elsewhere. International are also the praise it has gathered during its existence, such as the approval granted by the main Argentine newspaper, “Clarin”, which recently has included in the list of ten most beautiful libraries in the world along with Cook and Book of Brussels, the Central of Barcelona and the Librairie des Colonnes of Tangier or other temples of culture arrived on the big screen as the Shakespeare & Co. in Paris and Lello Porto, respectively, the set of Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen and Harry Potter films.
A long history, that of this wonderful library that has its turning point when, in 1974, a militant of the Radical Party, Angelo Pezzana, helped to write a new chapter. Known for its political struggle against discrimination of homosexuals, the new owner transforms the Luxemburg in a reality that crosses national borders and welcomes very great intellectuals among the protagonists of world literature. Therefore, in those years that the library leaps to the headlines and the top of the readers’ preferences for its section dedicated to the Anglo-American narrative: The British Bookshop. It develops and consolidates a special relationship with famous foreign publishers such as Penguin, Gallimard and Anagrama, a result that places the Luxemburg in an imaginary podium of the best libraries in the international literature of our country.
In 2004 the library management changes, but Pezzana always remains a sort of tutelary deity of a space that, strong of its past, continues to be synonymous with quality and excellence. A place where you do not just sell books impossible to find, but you can spend hours flipping through pages, exchanging words, transforming an outlet at the meeting point of different cultures. To take care of Luxemburg are now Tonino Pittarelli and Gigi Raiola which, together, have made their contribution to further growth of the cultural salon. For example, participating in the most important international events dedicated to books. The International Luxemburg Library does not rest on its laurels, aware that history and charm must be deserved every day through a renewed commitment. In Turin there is a smell of paper that looks like a wonderful promise. It seems to say: here we will continue to teach the beauty for a long time.
Cover: Turin, International Luxemburg Library, photo Daniele Ratti