A recent article in The New Yorker about the Italian bookstore SF Vanni was a reminder of this odd little place.  To call it a book shop is perhaps somewhat grandiose – in fact they called themselves booksellers.  The store had seemingly existed forever and through the 1980s, 90s and very early 2000s this was one of the few places in New York that had (some) Italian books available.  It was an anonymous storefront on W 12th St; if you didn’t know it was there it was easy to miss. The store window was not inviting, my memories are of a beige background with a few dusty tomes sitting in it. My interactions were almost always with a civil but not friendly older gentleman.  A few times I saw the rumored owner, an old woman who was extremely grumpy and seemed to want to rush you out. In this way it was very reminiscent of a type of smaller store one finds in Italy.  It was not a place to go and browse.  If you knew what you wanted, had phoned and checked if they had the book in stock, everything went well.  With the advent of the internet and the ease and availability of buying books online my visits to Vanni eventually stopped but the article brought back some nostalgia for a different time when you could shrug and shake your head about this peculiar piece of Italy in New York.