Genova – the fake demetrius

Genova – the fake demetrius


As always important encounters happen by chance, my friend Linda says they happen when you are on the right path, I’d like it to be so, what I know for sure is that I was wondering aimlessly along Genoa’s lanes on what seemed a usual Sunday, short after lunch, when my glance was trapped by a window. This is how I came across the fake Demetrius.

As I’m shy, I did not try to enter, thinking that the lights were on only for convenience and not because the bookshop was open…ops, I haven’t said it yet have I? The fake Demetrius is a bookshop, and what a book shop it is!
A couple in front of me enter, so I follow.

Behind the desk is Ilaria, she is working on the computer, I ask her if I can take some photos and if she’s the owner. She tells me I can take pictures and that the bookstore belongs to her and her fiancé. I start to take some shots while she continues with her work. I’d like to ask her some questions but since I’m shy, I ask for her visitors card. I exit thinking “what a beautiful bookshop, I’ll contact you’. And so I did!

First of all, why did you decide to open a bookstore ?
The bookstore came to life alone. Occurrences and chances moved in our favor and without thinking about it too much and not letting the financial crisis, the bad business situation and the possibility of failure (that would not be the death of anyone) frighten us, we brought along a project that started as a game but we accomplish with knowledge and seriousness.

Your bookshop is different, you get the feeling already from the outside, even before reading the title of a single book. In times when all homologize, why do you choose to be unique ?
Being ourselves assiduous and pretentious readers, we were aware of the restriction of “titles” in the bookstores (that look more and more like shopping malls) and of the mediocrity of reading proposals (confined today by advertisement budgets). To find reading really worth this name, one needs to spend hours looking through market stalls.
So why not do something for us, for the town centre and for all the people that would like a librarian who knows what to recommend but also likes to listen to customers ?
This is why we thought about a bookshop like one’s library at home, where books are chosen one by one with accuracy and personal taste but also open to clients and friends suggestions.
Just like in our home library, in the fake Demetrius’ bookshelves you can find personally chosen classics, books recommended by friends and new books to discover. As I said it all happened spontaneously, following the events and the help and encouragement that came from all sides.

A curiosity, where does the name come from ? Has it to do with a fake tzar (obviously I’ve just read about the fake tzar on treccani-on-line) ?
The fake Demetrius (or pseudo Dimitri) was the first usurper of the Russian* throne, but despite his historical importance, for us he’s a funny and fictional character related to the period of the preparation for a university exam, that was not so funny (Russia’s history). When for fun, we were thinking about the name for a bookstore (we had not planned yet to open one ourselves), we couldn’t think about any other name (there is an affinity with the various novels related with the fake tzar, most of all Puskin’s Boris Godunov. Our interest and love for Russian literature had a strong influence on it all.

In her mail, Ilaria tells me that they use the shop also for cultural initiatives that go from music to sport. Until today they’ve held a history lesson, a laboratory on music-therapy, a psychology meeting and they are planing a program of poetry accompanied by music, a collective reading encounter, a month long course on music history (a lesson per week) and an introduction and demonstration of capoeira. She ends her list with “that’s all”. That’s all ? I ask myself, to me it seems a lot ! Soon we will adapt a shelf for second hand books, but we will need time to achieve a good selection. Future is uncertain, but we knew that all along and we are positive.

Along Genoa’s blue alleys, I came across a golden bookshop where enterprising spirt and optimism grow spontaneously, down here, Ilaria and Alberto have decided to give it a try even if it may not work out (…but this will be no one’s death), better than standing there just looking.
A simple wisdom, an absentminded viewer could say, a personal choice, but made of, I think (actually I know) at least a million pages…of Russian novels !

he was described as charmless, short and square built, with arms of different lengths, brushy ginger hair a big atheroma on his face, an ugly nose and a melancholic and off-putting expression. But he did not lack in qualities, first of all, undeniable courage and considerable intelligence and ability. (..)
Boyars used him against the Godunov and then decided to dispose of him too. (..)
On the night of the 26th of May 1606 they infiltrated into Moscow a grand military division that was stationed close to the capital. This lead to a coup aimed at rescuing the tzar from the Polish, but soon the tzar was accused of being an imposer. The fake Demetrius tried to save his live by escaping, but was caught and handed to the rebels and assassinated by a strel’cy bodyguard. (..)
The government tried it’s best to convince the folk that the fake Demetrius was an imposer who succeeded to the throne thanks to a spell (..).
N.V. Riasanovsky
“History of Russia, from it’s origins to today”

Falso Demetrio Libreria

via San Bernardo 67R
Genova – Liguria 
Ilaria 010.3029585

writing and photography by paola faravelli
translated and adapted by daniela menzano
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  1. I loved finding this and would never have discovered the bookshop without your post on it. Grazie mille 🙂

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