Our history

A Family of Booksellers

Founded in 1875 at 6 Ricasoli St. in Florence by Luigi Gonnelli, the Gonnelli Antiquarian Bookshop is one of the oldest and most historic antiquarian bookstores in Italy, and one that also has the advantage of belonging to the same family for four generations. On Luigi's death in 1911, the "Libreria Luigi Gonnelli & Figli" passed on to his son Aldo who managed it for more than 60 years, until the succession of his daughter Maria Pia and son-in-law Alfiero Manetti. In 2000, on Alfiero Manetti death, the "Libreria Antiquaria Gonnelli" was passed on to his son Marco Manetti who, assisted by a staff of valuable collaborators, still runs it today. The continuous activity of the antiquarian bookshop is brilliantly accompanied by that of the auction house specialising in books, manuscripts, prints, drawings, antique and modern paintings.

From the earliest years of its activity, in the bookshop could be found precious editions, ancient and rare books, priceless pieces and rarities. Moreover, the bookshop was often visited by important cultural figures as Gabriele D'Annunzio, Giovanni Papini, Ferdinando Martini, Benedetto Croce: outstanding names of Italian and Tuscan culture that join those of prestigious bibliophiles as Tammaro de Marinis and Umberto Saba.

From left to right: Luigi Gonnelli, Aldo Gonnelli, Alfiero Manetti e Marco Manetti

The Exhibitions

By the end of the 19th Century, the Gonnelli Bookshop had become an important meeting location for painters of the Macchiaioli artistic movement as well as for important authors of the time. Giovanni Fattori, who taught at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence not far away from the bookshop, used to come to Gonnelli Bookshop to sell his palettes for some cavurrino (the coin that derives its name from Cavour).

In the back of the bookstore (a large space obtained from an internal courtyard covered by a skylight and consisting of columns and 16th Century stone portals), later became the Saletta Gonnelli, where painting exhibitions by various generations of artists were presented. Many of the artists that exhibited their artworks at Saletta Gonnelli have gone down in history as masters of the 20th Century, such as Giorgio De Chirico, Primo Conti and Ottone Rosai but also relatively minor artists, such as Enzo Pregno, Paulo Ghiglia, Enrico and Giotto Sacchetti, Memo Vagaggini, Francesco Chiappelli have also exhibited their artwork at Saletta Gonnelli, leaving a permanent trace of them in our memory.

Also, at Saletta Gonnelli, prestigious cultural exhibitions dedicated mainly to graphics have been set up in the last decades, with particular attention to the Symbolist Art Movement. In addition, Saletta Gonnelli also presented exhibitions of Italian and foreign engraving of the 19th Century as well as to the first half of the 20th Century. In our new location at 49 Fra 'Giovanni Angelico St. in Florence, a former contemporary art gallery, the exhibition activity of antique, modern and contemporary graphics and painting is still continued, bringing together our most antique traditions with a modern and versatile space.

Gonnelli Exhibitions

The Bookstore

At the turn of the 19th and 20th Centuries there were two other Gonnelli bookstores: A.S. Gonnelli in 2 Servi St., run by Amos Silvio, Luigi's eldest son, bookstore mainly specialised in autographs. Antique and Modern Bookshop Ferrante Gonnelli at 50 Cavour St., was the other bookshop run by Ferrante Gonnelli, Luigi's nephew, famous publisher and great supporter of the Futurist art movement.

The Bookstore

The Auctions

In 1880, Luigi Gonnelli held a book auction that lasted twelve consecutive days, inaugurating a business which, together with that of the bookshop, offered its customers not only the opportunity to buy collectible and rare books at a good price but also to take advantage of the possibility of selling their own goods in a public sale - at auction.

Until the end of the 1960s, numerous and important auctions of books, manuscripts, paintings, engravings and drawings were held at Saletta Gonnelli. In 2009, after a long pause of nearly 50 years, the historical activity of rare book auctions registered with the brand Gonnelli Auction House was "reactivated" with great success. The Auction House offers its customers further access to the world of collecting, by genuinely, transparently and professionally offering a combination of events filled with rare investment possibilities and driven by our passion.

Gonnelli Auctions

Gonnelli Editions

Alongside the activities related to our ancient and rare books, manuscripts, prints and drawings auctions, by the end of the 19th Century, Gonnelli bookshop began its own publishing activity by occasionally publishing books concerning the world of art, culture and bibliophilia. Among Gonnelli Editions we can surely remember the first edition of the Dictionary of painters compiled by Angiolo De Gubernatis in 1892 and the prestigious Compendiosa Bibliography of Edizioni Bodoniane by Hugh Cecil Brooks published in 1927.

Thanks to the initiative of Alfiero Manetti, Aldo Gonnelli's son-in-law, for over forty years the bookshop has also undertaken the publication of two prestigious editorial series: Unpublished documents of Tuscan culture and Papyrologica Florentina in which valuable research is divulged and explained, this being the outcome of scientific expert work of researchers of various nationalities. These series are accompanied by further publications of interesting works from a historical, documentary and artistic point of view, among which the Quaderni Gonnelli: catalogues published on the occasion of the art and graphics exhibitions held at the Saletta Gonnelli and the recent series Correspondence of Philologists.

Gonnelli Editions

Tradition and innovation

After 140 years, the Gonnelli Antique Bookshop has moved to a new location: a former contemporary art gallery, more accessible, more functional, more suited to the needs of a job in line with the times. Gonnelli Bookstore is not only a place where antique and rare books are sold, but a place where books and art exhibitions are periodically organised, presentations of cultural events, introduction courses to ancient books and art graphics. This is our way to give our contribution and continue as a cultural cenacle, as the activity of Gonnelli has been defined several times in history.

Discover our new headquarters

Our Timeline

We are booksellers by passion. For more than 150 years we’ve been doing the same things, driven by our love for tradition and our spirit of innovation.

Video created in 2016 in Gonnelli's historical headquarters in 6 Ricasoli St. in Florence.