The public library of Senigallia is named after two illustrious members of the Antonelli family, Nicola and Leonardo.
Nicola Antonelli ( 1698-1767) served as a cardinal under Pope Clemens XII, he loved Eastern civilizations, mainly the Jewish and Chaldean ones, he wrote many works and built in Rome a remarkable library. In his testament he wanted to put it at the disposal of his fellow citizens in Senigallia after his nephew Leonardo’s death, who was also a cardinal and a cultured man.
Leonardo, who was specialized in the history of the canon law and Eastern culture, increased the number of books in his library and it was looked after by a cultivated librarian who described it this way: “It was divided into ten large shelves all books were with French flaps, or colourful, or covered with painted and golden stripes which protected them from dust”.
After Leonard’s death, which occurred in Senigallia in 1811, the vast library passed on to the municipality of Senigallia, also due to the family’s extinction. It became public only in 1825.
In the library most books are about religion, theology, church history and canon law. A good number of books is also about Classical philology. Of particular value is a group of works written in Eastern languages , as Cardinal Antonelli was the Secretary of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith and his nephew Cardinal Leonardo of the Congregation for the correction of Eastern books.
At present the seat of the Antonelliana Library is the Foro Annonario, a harmonious round- shaped Neoclassical building made of bricks which was designed by Pietro Ghinelli from Senigallia in 1834.
In the ‘ 60 the library consisted of about 35,000 books, then it became even larger due to the purchase of other books by the municipality and to other bequeathals. As a whole the library is made up of 80,000 documents, about 200 posters and letters which are particularly useful for a historic reconstruction of the La Fenice theatre.