One of the oldest bookstores in Rome, the Antica Libreria Cascianelli, is a treasure chest of rare books, objets d’art, antiques and prints.

A true collector’s paradise unfolding in a décor essentially unchanged since the early XIXth century, complete with an original rail mechanism that operates the retractable store window, and a secret bookcase door opening to backrooms, likely the set for clandestine meetings.

Refined and carefully curated, the store is a cabinet of curiosities wrapped in its original boiseries and blown glass bookcases, and populated with works on Roman history, literature, botany, and medicine. Religion, science, art, and rare first editions meet in its shelves. Its counters are magical displays of scientific objects, memorabilia and carefully chosen artwork and decorative pieces from past eras and faraway places.

Aside from humanistic collectors, bibliophiles and wonderers, a miscellanea of famous people visited the dim-lit and quiet bookshop: Onassis, Greta Garbo, Lord Westbury, the author Leonardo Sciascia, and Pope Giovanni XXIII.

A trio of antiquarians and artistic directors—Valentina La Rocca, Alessandro Lancia, and Alfio Mazza — have managed the Antica Libreria Cascianelli since 2014, infusing new life and aesthetic elegance into the old store. The spaces are now used for book readings, art book presentations, fine art exhibits, music events and projections.

Mirroring its collections, the street level store windows are mini theater stage decors for visual adventures.