Moving to Rome and opening a cosy little English-language bookshop for all the expats might seem like a dream job, but in practice you'd meet with some stiff competition. There are already several bookshops dedicated to selling English books, as well as other Italian bookshops with sections in English. Details of all of these are below.
Since the closure of the Lion Bookshop in 2011, there are three main English-language bookstores in Rome.
The Anglo-American Book Company is actually two bookstores, both on Via delle Vite. One is a specialist science bookshop, while the other has a more general range.
Across town in Trastevere, the Almost Corner has large poetry and history sections. The Almost Corner is active in the expatriate community: you'll often see owner Dermot O'Connell selling new titles at book launches in town.
Feltrinelli International is a specialist branch of the large Feltrinelli chain, with a solid selection of books in English (and some other languages).
List of English bookshops
Almost Corner Bookshop
Via del Moro 45
Tel. +39 06 583 6942
All of the English language bookshops in Rome have their fans: there are people who swear by the Anglo-American bookshop or the Lion bookshop, but the best loved of all must be the Almost Corner bookshop in Trastevere.
Although the premises is small, the space is used well, cluttered and stuffed with books in a way that encourages browsing and promises the odd surprise find. Special ranges include poetry and history, but there's a bit of something for everyone. The Almost Corner is also a very central part of the English-speaking community in Rome, with owner Dermot regularly turning up to man the stall at local book events.
Their name comes from their origins: they were originally on a corner, and called the Corner Bookshop; when they changed premises they changed the name to suit the new location.
Like many places in Trastevere, the Almost Corner is easy to reach if you know the way, and impossible if you don't. It's on Via del Moro, which runs between Ponte Sisto and Via della Lungaretta, very close the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere.
Via Della Vite, 102 (or 27)
Tel. +39 06 679 5222 (general) or 06 678 9657 (scientific) or 06 678 4347 (subscriptions)
Web: www.aab.itOpening hours Hours vary by season, but both branches are closed on Sundays, and the scientific branch also on Saturdays.
The Anglo-American Bookshop has been in Rome, in one form or another, since the 1950s, and now occupies two sites on Via della Vite, just off the Corso between Piazza del Popolo and the Spanish Steps.
The main site, at no. 102, stocks a good range of classic and modern fiction, as well as a large selection of literary criticism and travel guides. There are also children's books and books on film. The second site, at no. 27, hosts their scientific and technical titles.
They have a good general range, especially of fiction, and their stock includes both British and American editions, which can make for some interesting browsing.
They also have a subscription department for international magazines.
Libreria Il Mare
Via Di Ripetta, 239
Tel. +39 06 361 2155
Official website www.ilmare.com.
Opening hours Open Monday to Saturday 9.30 - 19.30.
At the top of Via di Ripetta, not far from Piazza del Popolo, is this nautically themed bookshop, selling books in both English and Italian.
The stock includes pilot books, guides, nautical charts, and a range of reference and coffee table books relating to the sea and sailing. There's even a selection of nautical fiction and classics. Both new and used books are available, as well as bits and pieces like binoculars and model yachts.
Il Mare first opened in 1975 in Piazza Farnese, and has moved twice to wind up at its current location. The space is bright and open, and very conducive to browsing: they even do coffee.
via V.E. Orlando, 84/86
Tel. +39 06 482 7878 or +39 06 487 0999
Web: www.lafeltrinelli.itOpening hours Open 9:00-20:00 Monday-Saturday, 10:30-20:00 Sunday. Closed Sunday lunchtime.
As part of Italy's largest bookshop chain, Feltrinelli International might lack the independent charm and personal service of a shop like the Almost Corner, but it's still a useful addition to Rome's range of foreign-language bookshops.
The English titles include a very good classics section, as well as the usual range of crime and literary fiction. A room at the back contains comics and graphic novels (although be warned if you visit with children: they don't shelve children's comics separately from more 'adult' volumes), and the basement is devoted to a huge range of language-learning materials and dictionaries. As well as books in English, they also stock titles in French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Russian.
Feltrinelli International is near Piazza della Repubblica, a few minutes' walk from Termini Station.
The Lion Bookshop - CLOSED DOWN
Sadly, the Lion Bookshop in Rome seems to have closed down in 2011. We'll keep this page up for archival purposes.
Many of Rome's English-language bookshops have a long history, but none more so than the Lion Bookshop, first opened in 1947.
The range included fiction (including a small bookcase dedicated to anthologies), art, and photography, as well as a particularly friendly children's section. There was also a small café.
The Lion Bookshop was located on Via dei Greci, close to Piazza del Popolo. It was just a few streets up from the Anglo-American Bookshop, making it easy to visit both in one book-buying session.
The Open Door Bookshop in Trastevere sells used books in a variety of languages, including English. Prices vary widely, but they've usually got a stand outside selling battered tat for €1 per book:
Open Door Bookshop
Via della Lungaretta, 23
Tel: (+39) 065896478