Tuscany – A NewsAgents in The Sun

by Samuele Sodini

This coming summer my husband Stefano and I will be celebrating our first anniversary as the new proprietors of “ The editor’s Script” newsagents and bookshop in Ponte a Serraglio, Bagni di Lucca.And what a year it has been! Wanting to live the Tuscan dream, we packed up and left bonny Scotland where we had been based for over five years.
We found our dream home in a tiny village up in the hill that surround Bagni di Lucca. Next on our list was to find an income.Chatting with a neighbor one day we discovered that the newsagents in Ponte a Serraglio was up for sale.
This type of business marked a complete contrast to our backgrounds.Stefano has spent many years working as an information management consultant in the public sector, while my background is in the field of mental health and learning difficulties.
We spent a huge amount of time humming and hawing, weighing up the pros and cons, the what ifs, etc etc. once we had finally decided to go for it there was no turning back.It would be somewhat of an understatement to say that the locals were surprised to find that an Irish woman who spoke very little Italian had taken over 60-year old business.
They have been very welcoming and encouraging, wishing us the best of luck.They didn’t seem to mind too much about having to repeat / point at/ mime when they came to buy something ( I think) . Thankfully my Italian has much improved and I am now able to have a wee chat and find out the latest happenings. For our foreign customers we stock a selection of a new and used books, in English and other languages, international newspapers and magazines, guide books and maps etc.
We are now aiming to radically increase the bookshop section of our business covering subjects from fiction and narrative to current affairs and essays.
Dealing directly with UK publishers helps to keep prices down and competitive. Soon we will be offering our customers free Wi-Fi Internet connection so that they can surf while they enjoy an ice- cream or sip a cappuccino in the square.
We also act as an unofficial information site with people popping in to ask about good places to eat, places of interest etc. And with the bike rental service we are going to offer soon, Bagni di Lucca and the surrounding beautiful hills will be your playground …
So, coming up to a year, does our Tuscan dream hold up to our expectations?
In the beginning there was a fair bit of stress involved in getting to know the ropes of how the business worked such as dealing with orders, deliveries and all the administrative stuff.
But that soon became a thing of the past. Getting up at five-thirty every morning is still tough especially during wintertime when you need to leave a nice warm bed.
However, in our old life, working in highly-demanding professional jobs, we were up almost as early. But instead of a long commute in a packed train, we now have a ten minute drive down beautiful Tuscan hills where we often come across deer and porcupines.
The sunshine and the view of the river Lima also make for a much nicer working environment. We have met a lot of people, some who have become good friends, and we have become part of a community.
Our plan now for the near future is to update and refurbish the business, expanding the available space and the same time putting our mark on it. At the end of the day, enjoying a nice glass of wine, weighing everything up, we agree that we have made the right choice. Our “no going back” is for real… and not just a reality TV show.
Stefano Pilloni is a member of CILIP, the Charted Institute of Library and Informations Professionals.

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