Marco Besso was born in Trieste on 9 September 1843 into a Jewish family of merchants.
The organizational skills lead him to a rapid career in Assicurazioni Generali from the direction of various offices in Italy up to the presidency.
A man of a thousand interests and a rare balance between respect for traditions and a spirit of innovation, he is involved in Italian and European financial and industrial life with the posts of president, director of banks and companies, especially in the field of electricity and transport companies.
Deeply tied to the ideals and protagonists of our Risorgimento, he actively participates in political life. In 1875 he received the medal in the Campidoglio for the meritorious of the liberation of Rome. In 1874 in Florence he married Ernesta, daughter of Isacco Pesaro Maurogonato, patriot and senator of the Kingdom of Italy, with whom he has four children: Lia (1875-1947), Salvatore (1877-1882), Iso (1880-1882), and finally Salvatore (1884-1912).
In Rome, which he considers "adopted homeland", in 1905 he bought the former Palazzo Strozzi, in the current Largo di Torre Argentina, realizing the dream of his life: "to have a real library" in his own home.
His publications are numerous: he writes fundamental texts for the development of the insurance sector, social and commercial legislation; while his "literary works", as he defines them, are intertwined with the formation of his Library: Rome and the Pope in proverbs and idioms (1904), Dante's La Fortuna fuori d'Italia (1912), the Philobiblon by Riccardo de Bury (1914) and the Encomium morias by Erasmus of Rotterdam (1918).
Two years before his death, in 1918, he established the Marco Besso Foundation, named after him, whose aims are clearly summarized in the first three phases of his Statute:
“Increase of the national economy, Moral and social improvement of the working and middle classes, spread of general culture” , and opens the Library to the public.
“… And finally I have instituted, with wider aims and with means that I hope
will not be inadequate, the Foundation to which I wanted to give mine
name and my home, as I have assured my library and
my collections, since it was right and legitimate that the city that
(Autobiography, 1925 p.190-191)
graciously received me very young and it was my second home had me a lasting memory and enjoyed the fruits of my work .. ".