Archives in Italy

Archivi del Novecento
Archivi del Novecento is a computerized network of institutions with archives that have historical complementarity and typological homogeneity. Today there are 83 institutions in the network and more than 750 archival collections described, including nearly 280 with inventory-level analytical files or documents. In some cases the documents are completely scanned and available on line as an image.

Archivi: Sistema Archivistico Nazionale
The official website of all Italian archives.

State Archives
Besides holding all State documents dating back to the Middle Ages, the State archives hold notarial archives prior to the 20th century as well as the archives of ecclesiastical institutions and suppressed religious corporations. You will be able to trace about one million parchments and 8 million files and registers in the archives of Italy. State archives are housed in all Italian main cities, but they are all linked to the National Archive System whose web page allows you to reach individual archive web pages:

The Archivio Centrale dello Stato (State central archive) holds all the documents produced by the Italian State after its unification in 1861:

The Chamber of Deputies has its own archive, as well as the Senate and the Ministero degli Affari Esteri (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) who also have their own. All documents held in the State archives can be consulted, except for papers classified as confidential for political reasons (in this case they can be consulted only after 50 years), or because they refer to personal situations (e.g. penal proceedings, in this case they can be consulted only after 70 years). These two periods can be reduced for researchers.


Municipal Archives
In addition to State archives, you may also be interested in the local government ones, since several cities preserve a municipal archive, too, such as, for example:


Ecclesiastical institutions
The most important ecclesiastical archive is obviously the Archivio Segreto Vaticano. This is the central archive of the Vatican and preserves all deeds and documents concerning papal and in general Vatican administration and pastoral activity. Students are allowed to consult material under special circumstances: please send a specific request to the director with a letter signed by your supervisor and two photographs. In this request you will have to specify surname, name, qualifications (one degree at least), profession, nationality, permanent address and address in Rome, as well as the reasons for your research.

Other major ecclesiastical archives are:

Archivio Storico Comunale di Ferrara
It combines four major collections plus several minor collections and holds more than 10,000 parchments.

Arcidiocesi di Firenze
This archive holds the documents of the Florentine ecclesiastical court.

Arcidiocesi di Trento 
Its documents date back to the 11th century.

Diocesi di Monreale - Archivio storico
This is the most informed source for the Norman domination of Sicily.

Archivio del Costume e Tradizioni Ebraiche - Turin
In addition to documents concerning Jewish communities from the 17th to the 20th century, it holds the personal archive and library of Benvenuto Terracini. It also holds a precious collection of Jewish parchments (Ketubboth, matrimonial agreements).

Archivio Storico Diocesano di Mantova
This archive owns, amongst many other items, 80 illuminated anthem codices.

Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu (Jesuit Archives) Rome
The Roman Archives of the Society of Jesus (ARSI) are divided into three principal sections: The Archive of the Early Society (1540-1773); The Archive of the Restored Society (1814-present); and the Fondo Gesuitico.

Library and Archives 'Renato Maestro'- Archives of the Ancient Ghetto of Venice
This archive holds a large collection of documents and publications on the Jewish Community dating from the 17th century.


Commercial institutions
Archivi Storici delle Camere di Commercio Italiane
Besides offering essential information on Italian laws, technical norms and markets, it allows you to access all historic archives of the Italian Chambers of Commerce.

Compagnia di San Paolo - Archivio Storico - Turin
This archive holds three major collections:

  • the archives of the 'Compagnia di San Paolo' (1563-1853), including statutes, imperial and ducal letters, patent and papal bulls, legacies and loans, ledgers and registers
  • the archives of the 'Opere Pie - Istituto di San Paolo' (1853-1932), including minutes of their meetings and financial statements
  • E.G.E.L.I. (agency for estate management and liquidation) collection. This archive holds all documents produced by this institution established after the promulgation of the racial laws in 1938 to acquire, manage and resell the properties confiscated from the Jews.
    Admission on specific written request to: archivo.storico@compagnia.torino.it

Unicredit Banca di Roma - Archivio Storico
This archive unites the archives originally belonging to Banco di Roma (1880), Monte di Pietà di Roma (1539), Banco di Santo Spirito (1605) and Cassa di Risparmio di Roma (1836).

INA - Archivio Storico (National Insurance Institute - historic archive)
This archive holds all documents concerning the activity and the estate properties of the institute. The documentation concerning its properties in Italian colonies is worth mentioning. Admission is on request - you need to ring or fax (no email) - see the site for up-to-date numbers.


Academic institutions
Archivio Storico dell'Università di Bologna
The historical section of this archive holds all the materials concerning the administration of the University and includes a library of 20,000 volumes. It also has a photographic section (holding about 70,000 images and films) and a section dedicated to architecture and engineering. It also houses the Museo degli Studenti.

Università degli Studi di Torino - Archivio Storico
This archive covers from the end of the 17th century to the first half of the 20th. The collections of royal laws from the 18th and 19th centuries and of ministerial decrees from the second half of the 19th century are worth mentioning.


Trade Unions
Archivio Storico della Cgil di Roma e del Lazio 'Manuela Mezzelani'
This archive holds all documents concerning the political activities of the left-wing trade union of Lazio.

Historical Archives
Fondazione Gramsci
This foundation holds a very wide variety of newspaper clippings, visual material as well as historical documents relating mostly to the Italian left and the history of labour movements but more generally to the history of 20th century Italy. It includes a library as well as an archive.

Istituto Piemontese per la Storia della Resistenza e della Società Contemporanea
This archive contains a very rich body of material relating to the Resistance and the Second World War, in particular also relating to the deportation to labour and concentration camps. The site also contains useful links relating to the history of the 20th century and to other archives.

Archivio Storico Fondazione Corriere della Sera
This is the historical archive of the oldest and best selling Italian newspaper.