Milan has always been a city of vigorous literary life, where well-known and hailed writers, as well as devoted albeit demanding readers have gravitated towards. For centuries, the literary scene of the capital city of Lombardy has stood out for its diversity, being a workplace for both Milan-born writers who shared their love for their home city with the world (Alessandro Manzoni or Carlo Emilio Gadda), and those who came to Milan to find there a home for their art, among them the celebrated Umberto Eco or two Nobel Prize winners, Eugenio Montale and Dario Fo. Enchanted by the subtle beauty of the city, many great writers have given literary accounts of their visits to Milan (Stendhal, Shelley, Wilde, Kafka, Hemingway or Sebald), and the majority of the texts won renown and fame.
Milanese readers are curious and demanding. They rely upon a network of more than 200 libraries, both public and private, and bookstores (over 400) with a rich and varied offer. An additional opportunity of contact with literature is provided by the numerous literary festivals held in the Lombard capital, with authors coming from different countries and cultures. The largest of them is Bookcity Milano (first staged in 2012), which, for four days every year, focuses the entire city’s attention on books and literature. In 2016, Bookcity Milano was attended by more than 160,000 readers who could choose from among 1400 events organised by more than 700 institutions: publishers, associations, foundations, bookshops, libraries, museums, universities as well as shops, bars or hotels. Other festivals, such as I Boreali (focusing on Nordic literature), Writers and La Milenasiana, also add colour to the literary landscape of the city.
Milan is the capital of Italian publishing, with 500 big and small, variously profiled publishers that hire thousands of professionals working in the field. The city also hosts regular book fairs, such as Tempo di Libri (since 2017), Bookpride (independent publishers’ fair, since 2015) and Maremagnum (antique dealers’ fair).
There is a number of agile innovative institutions in Milan that support and promote literature. One of them is the Laboratorio Formentini per l’Editoria (LabForm), opened in 2015, which is dedicated to broadening the reach of literature, with a special emphasis on poetry and the art of publishing. LabForm Provides space for book industry professionals to stage discussions on the future of the publishing market, propose and carry out international projects, and promote Italian culture worldwide. It also hosts regular cultural events and exhibitions open to both professionals and rank-and-file readers. Another interesting literary institution is Agenzia X, which combines research, publishing and promotional activity. Entities like Fondazione Cariplo, Avanzi, Make a Cube or Che Fare offer assistance for start-ups and grassroots initiatives in the field of literature.