Skip to main content

The oldest
in Italy

A journey into history and knowledge.

The oldest library in Italy was founded in 1648 by Father Angelico Aprosio, to whom it owes its name.

A treasure chest of wonders contained in the ancient municipal building of Via Garibaldi, in the historic center: Two floors of history and discovery among thousands of volumes, incunabula and manuscript codes.

Origins and foundation

Native of Ventimiglia, Augustinian Father Angelico Aprosio, a seventeenth-century scholar and critic, collected around ten thousand works during his travels, including rare manuscripts of narrative, theater, law, and linguistics.

In 1653, the library was officially recognized by Pope Innocent X, who prohibited moving the precious tomes, under penalty of excommunication.

Nonetheless, originally located in the Convent of Sant’Agostino, it went through a progressive decline and, in the 17th century, the Aprosiana collection was almost forgotten. By order of the Directory of the Ligurian Republic, as many as three thousand works were removed.

Following centuries

During the Seven Years’ War, the convent that housed the library suffered serious damage and was looted. The same happened at the end of the 1790s with the Napoleonic invasion, when part of the bibliographic heritage was dispersed, flowing into private collections of Ligurian families and other libraries.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Municipality of Ventimiglia transferred all the surviving tomes to various buildings in the upper town. For some time, the volumes were housed in the Church of San Francesco, then in an adjacent building. They finally found their definitive home in what was the Civic Theatre, where they were moved following the earthquake of 1887 thanks to the contribution of Thomas Hanbury.

Via Garibaldi, 10 – 18039 Ventimiglia (IM)
Tel. +39 0184351209

How to get there
One minute’s walk from Porta Nuova, on the main street of the historic center, Via Garibaldi.

Opening hours and visiting methods
Open on: Thursday, 10 AM to 6 PM; Friday, 2 to 6 PM; Saturday, 9 AM to 1 PM

Fun Fact
A special air conditioning system preserves the ancient tomes of the library, and, in the event of a fire, a cutting-edge system is activated: Instead of water or foam, a gas is used to reduce the oxygen in the air, helping to suffocate the flames.