Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A New Marco Polo Bookshop for Kids Launches This Friday

The pleasant sight of a room full of readers in the yet-unfinished space of Marco Polo Kids during last Saturday's Open Day

In the nearly 6 years I've been writing this blog I feel lucky to have never had to worry about advertising or conflicts of interests. I've never taken ads or "monetized" the blog, nor had lodgings or guided tours or anything else to sell. There's nothing wrong with doing any of these things--and maybe I should have been doing some of them for all I know. But it seemed pleasant to do something in which financial considerations were not woven into the fabric of the project, as they are, unavoidably, in so many things we do these days.

If I recommended a store, for example, it was because I'd had good experiences in it or found its merchandise especially interesting before I ever thought of doing a blog post about it or came to know its proprietor.  

This was the case with Libreria Marco Polo, the local bookstore about which I find (after using the "Search This Blog" widget in the right hand margin of this page) that I've done five different posts: the first of them on 4 December 2011, the most recent on 27 September 2015.

The last of these posts was about the grand opening of a second Libreria Marco Polo in Campo Santa Margherita, a beautiful bookstore which seems to be thriving in its new location.

A busy bookmark workshop outside Marco Polo Kids during last Saturday's Open House
Today's post is about the transformation and grand reopening of the original Libreria Marco Polo-- located just behind Mauro Codussi's lovely little ruddy church of San Giovanni Grisostomo, not far from the Rialto--as a children's bookstore: Libreria Marco Polo Kids.

Considering how much I've enjoyed both Marco Polo bookstores over the years, and considering how important they've been as a site of community activity and spirit, I'd almost certainly be posting about this news in any case. But this time it's a little different, as my wife Jen is--along with Elisabetta Favaretti, the long-time co-proprietor of the Marco Polo bookstores, and four other women--one of the founding booksellers involved in the creation of this new store.

A reading during last Saturday's Open House
Marco Polo Kids will stock books for children and adolescents and, along with its Italian books, include a selection of titles in English, German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, and Arabic. But in addition to its books, the store will also offer a range of activities for kids: readings, workshops, courses and special events. It aims to be a cultural center for both local kids and their parents and for visitors alike.

A young visitor helps decorate the bookshop entrance
Last Saturday's "Open Day" at Marco Polo Kids was the first chance for people to get a look at the
changes taking place in the new store and, in some cases (as at right), to quite literally leave their imprint on the space. With the store still in an unfinished state, its bookshelves not yet filled, it was a chance for people to meet the booksellers, sample some of the activities the bookstore will offer (last Saturday: a bookmark-making workshop outside, readings indoors), enjoy snacks and beverages, and offer their input on the kind of cultural and educational place they'd like it to be. There was nothing yet for sale--in spite of how many people saw things they wanted to buy. It was all about the free exchange of ideas and building a sense of community.

The official Inauguration of the store will take place this Friday, 28 October, beginning at 5 pm, with home-made cakes and beverages for kids. At 6 pm live music will be added to the mix of activities, and apertifs will be available for adults. And this Friday, in contrast to last Saturday's Open Day, the store will officially be open for business.

As important as the idea of local community building is to the bookshop is the idea that visitors to the city and their children will also be welcome to participate in a space where real Venetian life--not simulated or costumed or commodified versions of it--is taking place. A Venice of the present and the future, not just of the past; a present and future that visitors themselves can participate in.

If you're in town this Friday, stop in for the Inauguration, or, at any time thereafter, to see what you think. 

Two kids read while another draws on the bookshop's chalkboard wall


  1. The very best of luck to the booksellers in this venture.

  2. That looks a great place to lose yourself in a book!

    1. Small and cozy, Rob! But so is the Marco Polo in Campo Santa Margherita.