Founded in 1881, and run by the fourth generation, Pettinaroli is considered one of the oldest printing venues in the city. Since its inception, the shop has been a reference point for style and elegance in writing paper, business cards, printed documents, desk items and photo albums in beautifully handcrafted leather according to time-honored Italian tradition. In the basement floor of the shop,there is a vast assortment of prints and antique maps.
We have visited this fascinating boutique and by strolling from one Nineteenth century piece of furniture inherited from the first family activity to some of the views of Milan – one of the feathers in the cap of the boutique – and a leather accessory, we have asked expert in historical maps and prints Francesco Pettinaroli where the rarest pieces nestled in his shop come from. “I choose in person any piece you can spot in my boutique, taking advantage of my few-decades long experience in this sector”.

The boutique

As he tells us “the sources to select my products are always the same: mainly auction houses, but also exhibitions and specialised markets in Italy, France, The Netherlands, Germany and England” though “at times it can happen that some other shop holders call me to state they own a particular map of Milan or of Italy and ask me if I am interested in it. This as they all know my love for the search of ever-new pieces for my shop”. A short time passes by from this phase to the day customers can spot the map among Francesco Pettinaroli’s collection. Indeed, he explains to us that a real international network of shop holders in the sector has been created, whose members daily collaborate to select and switch their most precious pieces. We have asked him in what does the peculiarity of his maps lie compared to others’ and we were pleased to hear his answer. “I look for mapsviews and panoramas that testify the growth and the changes occurred the city and within its districts”, to create a sort of historic timeline able to tell all the secrets of a now forgotten Milan. It’s not mere chance that his shop has been rewarded with the degree of Historical Boutique awarded by Milan’s Municipality in 2006, to underline its important role as historical heritage for the city.
Leather accessories

He also highlights that Pettinaroli is not just synonymous of tradition, but it also involves innovation and new trends to be able to satisfy all the needs of an ever-changing clientele, which ranges from local aficionados to international tourists. Though, while we are chatting plunged in the department owed to maps and prints, he explains to us that the upper floor is the more appreciated by foreign customers, who feel particularly attracted by its exclusive leather or wood souvenirs, by the business cards, as well as by the headed papers crafted with manually or semi-automatically powered machines or by the writing instruments, “objects infused with a retro allure but which have never been this modern”.
Precious writing instruments

The research, production and sale of precious exclusively Made in Italy pieces and the promotion of Italian craftsmanship is our hallmark feature and priority, which make us feel very proud of”. And when it comes to our question on what the piece that better expresses the excellence of his boutique is, Francesco Pettinaroli has no doubts: “the Mountaineer’s Diary is one of the objects that better expresses my personality, as it conjures up the design of times gone by, featuring engravings in liberty calligraphy, and my personal passion for the mountains. It looks a bit like the travel journals where mountaineers from the past centuries used to write notes down, from the simplest day trip to the most challenging endeavours.” At this point, proving him wrong is a hard task, as any of his words reveal the secret of Pettinaroli’s success: his owner’s passion, which has been accompanying the boutique’s history for over 130 years.
Open Mon 3pm-7pm; Tues-Fri 10am-7pm; Sat 10am-2pm / 3pm-7pm.

Via Brera, 4
T: +39 02 86464642-1875
M2 (green line) Lanza