The Benincasa library is right at the centre of the historic centre of Ancona ( address: 30, Via Bernabei), close to the San Pietro Gate ( Arco di Carola), and Plebiscito Square, nor far from Piazza Roma.
It’s housed in the 16th century house belonging to the Mengoni Ferretti noble family. The library of this family was opened to the public in 1669, as the marquis Luciano Benincasa bequeathed.
The Ferretti noble family had Umbrian origins, belonged to the mercantile and maritime aristocracy and among its members noteworthy are Grazioso Benincasa and his son Andrea, who were both talented cartographers as well as rich shipowners . Luciano Benincasa played important roles both in the town and within the Pontifical State and had broad cultural interests which led to the creation of a vast collection of books: 2,634 books about ecclesiastical law , history, civilization and geography . At a later time the marquess Eleonora Vincenzi, who got married to Luciano Benincasa’s son , with the approval of Benedict the 14th bequeathed it to the municipality together with a large sum of money for a yearly increase in the number of books ( 1749), furniture and two globes.
The original archives of the Benincasa library have never been found, but a list dating back to 1822 is a precious document which lists about 13 types of books, most of which about history, religion, law and medicine. This was the first core of the public library, which was then widened especially in the second half of the 19th century, thanks to the renovated cultural life in Ancona.
Veritable jewels of the library, beside the original works, are Il Portolano by Grazioso Benincasa, a collection of notes about the harbours and coasts written for his personal use ( 1435), a nautical chart by Andrea Benincasa (1490),the Beringhieri geography edited in 1480 by Niccolò Todesco, two 17th century globes by Greuter, an important musical collection by Nappi and a collection of the statutes of the main town of the Marche , which are very interesting for the study of ancient municipal law, the Levi collection with important books about economics and commercial law, the collection by Giorgio Terni including incunabula and important books about hebraism, the Albertini collection with rare editions of local history, the Mengoni- Ferretti collection, among which the 18th century manuscripts by Tarquinio Pinaoro about the history and the noblemen from Ancona”.
Since 2008 a new collection of books written mainly for and by women about themselves published from the 70s can be browsed on-line. It consists of about 600 books which have widened the heritage of books belonging not only to the province of Ancona but also the National archives, as 20 of these books were not there.