Established by Domenico Amedeo Dallai in 1939 in Piazza De Marini, in the heart of the old quarter, amidst alleyways and little squares, between Banchi, San Lorenzo and Sottoripa, this Old World Bookshop has been here for over 70 years, next to the fine portal of Palazzo De Marini - Croce, one of the 42 so-called “palazzi dei Rolli”, which were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006. When Amedeo died in 1951, the shop was taken over by his daughters Norma and Giovanna; today, the latter is assisted by her daughter Marta in the running of a business administered with expertise but above all with passion for a trade that runs in the family. This bookshop is a fascinating surprise, full of carefully and skilfully selected rare editions. The premises are very small with an attractively wooden framed shopfront which, merging into the shop sign, supports a balcony with vases of flowers. You go up a couple of steps, through a small wooden door, then a third step leads inside a magical place attesting to centuries of history, with antique books and prints hanging on the shelves, almost as if protecting the rare and valuable volumes. There are books of all kinds, arranged in their own “idiosyncratic” order, with a vast range of subject matter as well as prints depicting Genoa and Liguria, cartography and the landscape, the sea and seafaring, botany and wildlife, arts and crafts, architecture and religion: five centuries of iconography in the shape of furnishing and collectibles.
Genoa is intriguing, mysterious and layered. Evidence of this is the wrought iron grating visible below the shop window, through which deliveries were made to another old store below, of firewood, coal and blocks of ice, which were then supplied to businesses in the old town. Giovanna remembers this peculiarity.