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The library


The Library is located on the first floor of Palazzo Besso in Largo di Torre Argentina, an area of particular historical and monumental importance in Rome.

“... own a real library and

own, mine, in my house, here is the

dream of my whole life, ... .. "

Marco Besso



The Library, with a heritage now calculated of over 70,000 works including monographs and pamphlets and numerous periodicals, is closely linked to the life of its founder Marco Besso , who wanted it as a support and instrument for his studies. A cultured and refined bibliophile, Marco Besso in 1918, the year of the foundation of the same name, established that his personal library would become an integral part of the Foundation and be a living and updated instrument for its purposes.


It is a specialized library with thematic sections coming precisely from the specific orientations of Marco Besso and who after his death continued to increase the collections, following the statutory indications, with purchases and annexes of book funds donated by scholars.
The original corpus consists of a large collection of studies on the city of Rome, Dante and paremiological editions, as well as volumes of Risorgimento history, economic, insurance and social studies, topics attributable to the professional activity of Marco Besso. Inside there is also the personal library of Salvatore Besso, son of Marco, with publications and travel diaries.
Even if the new accessions have always followed the initial direction, the acquisitions in bulk, the donations and new needs for study and research have meant that the field has expanded to new trends, especially those concerning Etruscology and Lazio.
The many ancient editions, registered in specific catalogs published by the Marco Besso Foundation, and particularly rare editions are preserved in the various thematic sections.


In addition to the specialized sections, the Library has general reference works, repertories, encyclopedias and dictionaries, including historical ones, almost all of which are free to use and located in the Reading Room.
Numerous periodic publications (about 700, of which about a hundred current and all included in the ACNP national catalog ), many historical and of considerable importance for the knowledge of the Risorgimento and post-Unification of Italy period, as well as those relating to the same research area of the monographs.

The Roman Section , with its numerous monographic publications and many specialized periodicals, is one of the most conspicuous and important private collections in Italy. It preserves volumes of history, art, archeology, urban planning, religious history and traditions. The descriptions and guides of Rome that Marco Besso, as a passionate bibliophile had gathered together in search of them through Italian and foreign antiquarians also in other languages, many of which he himself perfectly know, deserve particular attention. In 1992 a specific catalog of the collection was published and in 2001 a second updated edition was published ( Guides and descriptions of Rome from the 16th to the 20th century in the library of the Foundation , edited by Gaetana Scano).

The Dante section reflects the ideals of Marco Besso, a man of the Risorgimento and the unification of Italy. He devoted himself to researching editions of Dante Alighieri's works, acquiring incunabula, sixteenth-century and almost all modern Italian and foreign editions of the Comedy, as well as critical works, bibliographic repertories and specialized periodicals. In 1967 a specific catalog of this collection was published ( Editions of Dante's works in the library of the Foundation , edited by Antonio Martini).

The paremiological section with its over 1000 volumes is among the rarest and most particular, there are in fact collected volumes of aphorisms and proverbs in ancient and modern European and oriental languages and dialects. Also for this collection in 2006 a specific catalog was published ( The paremiological editions in the library of the Foundation , edited by Laura Lalli).
The Lazio and Etruscology Section has over 3000 publications and about 60 periodicals that cover the history of the municipalities of the Lazio region, customs and traditions, as well as a large collection of studies on Etruscology.
Of particular importance, for the content and for the prestige of the volumes preserved in it, is the Goretti Fund concerning Tuscia and coming from the donation made by Giovanni Battista Goretti, mayor of Sutri, in 1926. It contains over 9000 bibliographic units and this collection is dedicated a beautiful room of the Library.
The Prints and Photographs Fund , currently undergoing verification and filing, consists of a large number (approximately 10,000) of antique prints, photographs and postcards with subjects referable to bibliographic collections. Most of it comes from Marco Besso's private library and concerns the city of Rome, Lazio, Tuscia, and the history of art so as to compose a homogeneous collection including the bibliographic material.
The photographic collection concerning the history of the family and the activities related to the Foundation are divided into different funds including that belonging to Salvatore Besso (1884-1912) son of Marco, a truly unique collection given his activity as an envoy to the East for the newspaper "La Tribuna" with a collection of about 10,000 postcards from 1895 to 1912.
The Marco Besso Library, since 1999, has participated in the National Library Service (SBN), in the pole of state public libraries and, therefore, all bibliographic units are searchable in the SBN catalog. Since 1994 it has joined the Roman Bibliography project, a database, in cooperation with other libraries and institutes in Rome, which makes all the contributions on Rome from the Middle Ages to the present day accessible and published since 1989. Since 2004 it has joined the national catalog of periodicals ACNP .

The Library is currently digitizing its collections with the aim of preserving the most delicate and precious specimens and, at the same time, providing an additional consultation tool.

The Library also hosts all the events that the Marco Besso Foundation promotes and organizes such as exhibitions, conferences, seminars and book presentations whose content concerns the specializations of the Library itself.

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