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Montereggio: a village of booksellers and publishers

Montereggio is a small village of medieval origin, located in Lunigiana and more precisely in the municipality of Mulazzo,  province of Massa Carrara, perched on a hill, in a strategic position as it is located near the Passo dei Casoni that connects the Val di Magra to the Val di Vara, to the via Francigena and to the Ligurian Sea. The strategic importance of this place is evidenced by its representation in the gallery of maps of the Vatican Museums.

In the main square of the village stands the Palazzo dei Marchesi Malaspina, testimony of the noble family of Massa who dominated the fief of Mulazzo and the entire Lunigiana for centuries.
But the fame of Montereggio is due to its inhabitants who, since the first half of 1800, with the arrival of spring, left the family with baskets full of books, heading on foot the northern-center cities; they soon realized that in those places the paddler of books could be the gateway to a better life.

Many of those who first started selling books didn’t know how to read, but the following generations passed to the stall and finally to the bookshop; many of these book stores became important meeting points and cultural exchanges.

The love for books and the thirst for knowledge led some of the inhabitants of Montereggio to create small publishing houses, of which the most famous was the Maucci Editorial House widespread in Barcelona, ​​Mexico City and Buenos Aires, which spread the classics of the European literature in all Spanish-speaking countries.
During the Risorgimento many inhabitants of Montereggio departed as migrants to France with rams full of razor stone; crossing the Alps and selling their goods, they filled the hierarchies of books by forbidden authors, such as Machiavelli, Voltaire, Pellico, Mazzini censured by the Savoy monarchy and the Austrians, thus becoming real “smugglers of culture” and thus contributing the spread of “subversive” ideas that will later lead to the unification of Italy.
In 1954 the booksellers of Montereggio were the main proponents of the Premio Bancarella, a prize that wants to be the essence of what they were: street vendors, traveling vendors, diffusers of ideas, always close to the taste of readers.

Every year in August there is held the Book Festival, which for a week fills the narrow alleys of the center of stalls offering books of all kinds, as well as food and wine counters with local specialties and numerous debates meetings with authors, publishers and relief of the Italian social and cultural panorama.

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