By Maíra Amorim, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – It was originally just a bookshop, but now you can also drink a coffee, eat a pizza, and even watch a Cuban film while drinking a mojito. Livraria Largo das Letras, the first and only bookshop located in Santa Teresa, the bohemian neighborhood perched on top of the hills of Rio, continues to offer more with a Sunday evening Cuban Exhibition.
The idea of opening the bookshop in Santa (as the neighborhood is known by Cariocas) originally came from the cardiologist Ana Mallet, who lives in the area and always had it in mind. “She mentioned it to a group of friends and we all got enthusiastic. So we found an old house from the 19th century, refurbished it and started the project in 2004”, explains David Kestenberg, one of the 16 partners of Largo das Letras.
Santa Teresa is surrounded by favelas, which has been partly to blame for it’s reputation among Cariocas as a dangerous neighborhood. “But it has been improving since the inauguration of the movie theater two years ago, and there are lots of new restaurants and cultural centers. The cultural movement is the only solution to stop Cariocas of being scared of Santa”, believes David.
Many events have already taken place at the bookshop – from literary nights to political debates, including new book releases and jazz concerts. Now they have created a new initiative, the Cuban Exhibition, which happens once a month and has free entrance, the third edition of which will be on May 3rd (a Sunday). It starts at 5pm and includes film exhibitions from Cuba and from Brazilians who have lived there, debates about the island’s politics, culture and history and a concert of Cuban music.
The Cuban Exhibition is curated by the journalists Júlia Motta and Ludmila Curi, two friends who have in common not only their profession but their passion for the island they visited and fell in love with. “The idea is to create a place of exchange about Cuban art in Rio. There is no stage, only chairs that move according to the attraction”, says Júlia.
The presentation of Cuban art in Rio has been gaining a wide audience of locals and foreigners – who are also drawn by the neighborhood’s charming and bohemian atmosphere. “There are many new hostels and bed and breakfasts in the area”, says Kestenberg, stating that this also explains the frequent visits of Gringos in the bookshop.
Since last November there has also been an artisanal Pizzaria within the bookshop offering excellent dinning with quality ingredients. With a mojito or a caipirinha, the sound of good music and an amazing view of Rio, the Cuban Exhibition and the Livraria Largo das Letras are a great option to finish the weekend – or to any other day of the week as it is opened from Tuesday to Sunday, from 2PM to 10PM.
Livraria Largo das Letras
Rua Almirante Alexandrino, 501
Largo dos Guimarães – Santa Teresa
Phone: (00 55 21) 2221-8992
Opened from Tuesday to Sunday – From 2PM to 10PM