martedì 16 giugno 2015

Ethics and Beauty in Florentine Shops- Todo Modo: Pietro Torrigiani

Interview by Fabrizio Ulivieri and Laura Tressel

Where does the name of your bookshop, Todo Modo come from?

It comes from a famous book written by the Italian author Leonardo Sciascia, which they also made into a film. We also chose the name because the letters "T" and "M" are included in all the surnames of the people who work in the shop, which makes it more personal.

There are five of us who work together in the store. My wife and I manage the store and the books, there is someone in charge of the wine selection for the bar, and there are two guys who work outside with publishers. We all collaborate to make the business work.

How did you come into the bookshop business?

When I was younger and in school, I worked in a famous bookshop in Florence: Seeber. Unfortunately, that store is no longer around, but I really enjoyed working there. I finished school, and while I was working as a lawyer, my wife and I started a literary festival in La Spezia during the summers. We did this festival for seven years and through it we made a lot of connections with writers and publishers. The idea of creating a new bookstore in Florence came from this experience. It took us three years to build up our catalogue of books because the titles are not necessarily the popular books you see everywhere. A lot of the time, clients come and suggest books and if I like it i'll buy a couple copies of it.

What is your personal relationship with the city and with the bookstore?

I grew up on the Oltrano side of the river, San Frediano. I always thought that we would open the bookstore over there, but this location, just across the bridge, was perfect for our shop. A lot of our customers still come from that side of the river.

How do you feel about Florence?

Of course I love Florence! Especially in the last two years, independent bookstores are really getting attention here. I think six new independent bookstores have opened (including us) recently, and its really good for our business. I also think that if people get the chance to live in Florence, they can really become a part of the city and get deeper than just the tourist experience.

For me, one of the most important aspects of living and owning a shop in Florence is making connections with other people. For our bar, we always buy produce from the same market because we have good relations with them. Also, there is a new place that sells only art catalogues nearby, and because we have a good relationship with them, we make sure not to sell art catalogues at Todo Modo because we respect their business. These types of connections form a community among the businesses and people of Florence.

Why do you think people come to Florence?

They come because it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, of course. Also, its very easy to walk everywhere. When people ask me for suggestions for where to go I always tell them just to walk around, not to spend hours inside a museum. There is so much to see around the city.

What are some of your favorite places in Florence?

My favorite place, besides my bookshop, is the area of San Frediano. I really like the atmosphere of the neighborhood. My favorite square there is Piazza Tasso. It has a lot of nice restaurants, there are always people that hang out and play soccer, and my favorite ice cream shop is here.

What reason would you give a student to come to Florence? 

The city is is place that you can really create a relationship with. You can connect with the churches, the  piazzas, the different places, and they will become a part of you. I think if a student could come here for six months or a year, they would really have the chance to become part of the city. It's a wonderful experience.

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