Located in the central Piazza Matteotti n. 2 in Città di Castello, the historical archive of the Paci bookstore LA TIFERNATE and the publishing house IL SOLCO collects documentation regarding two interesting publishing realities of Tiferno from 1900: the Paci bookstore LA TIFERNATE (founded by Giuseppe Paci in 1926) and the publishing house IL SOLCO (founded in 1921).
The rich documentation (including printed works, sketches, drawings, correspondence, typographic matrices, accounting, corporate documentation…) tells of a past history, but one that is alive and of an enterprise and passion that, even with limited economic means, were able to create true editorial masterpieces and be a dynamic cultural reference for the city in a difficult period such as that of the Second World War and the post-war period.
Inventoried by Antonella Lignani and Enrico Paci in 2012, the archive was declared of “considerable historical interest” in 2016 by the Archival Superintendency for Umbria. In 2023, it was included in the Interactive Museum Network of the Upper Tiber and among the cultural sites of the Umbria Region. The headquarters, set up as a small museum, can be visited by appointment.
In 1926, at the age of twenty-three, Giuseppe Paci left his job as a typographer and took over the Valori stationery store in the very central Piazza Vitelli (known as “di sopra”) in Città di Castello (PG). The following year, he decided to embark on a new adventure by founding the “Libreria Editrice La Tifernate – G. Paci publisher”, inaugurating the business with the text by S. Rondini, Vittima d’amore, Vita di S. Veronica Giuliani (printed by the “Orf. Sacro Cuore” typographic school).
The activity of the small publishing bookstore, initially sporadic, grew and diversified until, in the post-World War II period, it organized itself into series:
A series of manuals with compendiums for students, ironically called “Manuali Ficcachiodo”. The “Libri Scanzonati” series with satirical texts and jokes of manifestly anti-fascist content printed immediately after the fall of the regime. Other series are “Libri Critici”, “Quaderni di Attualità”, “Libri tecnici” (there remain some copies of the volumes Il quindicinale per la paga degli operai and Il prontuario dei conti fatti), “Libri Incantati” (for children).
In the immediate post-war period, Giuseppe Paci decided to reprint some classics that were then scarcely available: Le avventure di Pinocchio by C. Collodi (1944), illustrated by the linoleum engravings of B. Albi Bachini (then fifteen years old), I promessi Sposi by A. Manzoni (1945), illustrated by Aldo Riguccini (De Rigù), Le mie prigioni by S. Pellico, illustrated by Nemo Sarteanesi. It is in these texts, perhaps more than in others, that the publisher and former typographer poured his passion for printing and literature, enriching the editions not only with refined illustrations but also with prefaces by important scholars and intellectuals: Prof. Attilio Momigliano (then in Alto Tevere to escape fascist persecutions) and Prof. Raffaele De Cesare.
Starting from 1947, Giuseppe Paci began to publish the monthly magazine for French students La Petite Bibliothèque Française, pour les enfants italiens, founded by Prof. Giacomo Giacomini with Prof. R. De Cesare as the responsible director and Prof. Quintilio Marsili as editor, and numerous collaborations between designers (Fernando Fusco, Maria Riccardini-Zampini, Baldino) and intellectuals (Prof. Elpidio Tocchini, Prof. Riccardo Bartoccioni) that made each issue rich in both literary and graphic content. The magazine achieved a certain success with the public and critics and had considerable distribution in the national territory.
With the death (at only 61 years old) of Cav. Giuseppe Paci, the editorial adventure of the small publishing bookstore – or at least its most explosive phase – began to wane, both due to the loss of its founding father, curator, and factotum, and due to significant and radical changes in the publishing sector.
What remains, and it is not insignificant, is the beautiful story of the dream of a young typographer who opens a bookstore and plays – seriously – at being a publisher.
In 2021, this dream was revived with the reopening of the publishing activity, which inaugurated with the anastatic reprint of the historic volume Le avventure di Pinocchio from 1944. The operation was enriched with the creation of a music-backed audiobook of the complete version of the novel.
A spade with an open book inserted in which the motto “Dissodare” is written: this is the typographic mark (created by the Roman painter Carlo Alberto Petrucci, of which the original sketch is preserved) of a publishing house that represents an interesting moment in the intellectual and entrepreneurial life of Città di Castello. We are in the first months of 1920, and three men from Tiferno whom we might call “committed”, Gustavo Bioli, Enrico Giovagnoli, and Giulio Pierangeli, gave life to a publishing initiative that rests on the tradition of Scipione Lapi and on two cooperatives of typographers, the “Unione Arti Grafiche” and “Leonardo da Vinci” (to which the “Pliniana” typography of Selci and the “Oderisi” of Gubbio would later join). The first volume published is La capacità politica delle classi operaie by P. G. Proudhon, translated and edited by G. Pierangeli. The brief but intense introduction is dated Easter 1920.
From a typographical point of view, the realization is modest and economical, but very well cared for.
Following the first text, others followed in a short span of time. Thus, in the two subsequent years, the activity of the new publishing house experienced an unthinkable development, articulated in series, producing a significant number of texts, all of great topicality and high cultural interest, sending its productions to all the best bookstores in Italy, from Gorizia to Syracuse, and even abroad. By May 1921, the published titles were twenty-seven, and in the “Biblioteca di cultura politica” section, books such as Carbone ed elettricità in Italia by Vittorio Mezzatesta; L’antico regime e la rivoluzione by Alexis De Tocqueville, with a preface by G. Pierangeli, who also edited the translation; I consigli di fabbrica by Mario Guarnieri, who himself proposed the publication of the work, as an expert on the subject, since he had been closely involved with the Turin events of those years, were published. In the “Biblioteca di cultura filosofica” section, the text La crisi del pensiero moderno by Alessandro Chiappelli was published, to which Nicola Abbagnano dedicated a review, as did many other works produced. From the friendship between Don Enrico Giovagnoli and the Catholic deputy Egilberto Martire came the suggestion to publish documents of the then ongoing Soviet revolution, specifically writings (mostly from speeches) by Lenin, Zinoview, and Trotsky (La rivoluzione e la guerra by Lenin, Il socialismo e la guerra by Lenin and Zinoview, Il fallimento della seconda internazionale by Trotsky). These works are part of the small series entitled “I Germogli”.
Many letters sent to “Il Solco” are written on headed paper of the Chamber of Deputies, and it is from one of its librarians, Enrico Damiani, that contemporary works of Bolshevik writers are provided, while from his friend Giuseppe Tucci comes the proposal to translate from Sanskrit the “Classics of the East.” Thus, the Publishing House became part of the cultural and political debate of the time, steeped in socialism, idealism, linguistics, poetry, art, and references to the revolution.
The beginning of the Publishing House is like an explosion of activity and production. Currently, in addition to the texts, it has been possible to recover a large archive of letters from various authors, including Piero Gobetti, Giuseppe Prezzolini, Egilberto Martire, Giovanni Gentile, Giuseppe Lombardo Radice. Therefore, the role that this initiative had in local culture is undeniable. The most lively season of “Il Solco” probably ended in 1923, although publications continued for some time.
With the aim of preserving, enhancing, and expanding the historical, cultural, artistic, and editorial heritage of the Archive of the Paci Bookstore and the IL SOLCO publishing house in Città di Castello, the association ARCHIVIO STORICO DELLA LIBRERIA EDITRICE PACI LA TIFERNATE E DELLA CASA EDITRICE IL SOLCO a.p.s. was established. It carries out its function through events, exhibitions, publications, and by resuming publishing activities.
All this to make the heritage contained in the archives accessible to scholars, school groups, and the simply curious.
Some of the stories related to the publishing bookstore were featured in the project “STORIE DI LIBRI: Le avventure di Pinocchio e I promessi sposi della Libreria editrice Paci LA TIFERNATE. Stories, lives, passions, and knowledge around the reprinting of two great classics.”, which involved about 1000 middle and high school students in Città di Castello through an exhibition, a show, and the anastatic reprinting of the volumes “Le avventure di Pinocchio” and “I promessi sposi”. The project, realized in collaboration with MEDEM a.p.s and funded by the 8perMille of the Waldensian Church, focuses on the two great classics that were republished by Cav. Giuseppe Paci, bookseller and publisher, in the post-war period (a time when even classics were scarcely distributed), and which were enriched with authoritative prefaces (Attilio Momigliano, Raffaele de Cesare) and embellished with illustrations by two talented artists (Benito Albi Bachini and Aldo Riguccini, known as De Rigù, using the technique of linoleum engraving).
The archive, located on the mezzanine above the Paci Bookstore in Piazza Matteotti n. 2 in Città di Castello, was declared of considerable historical interest in 2016 by the Archival Superintendency for Umbria. Since 2023, it has been included in the RIM circuit and declared a cultural site of the Umbria Region, set up as a small museum and is visitable by appointment.
Enrico Paci (editor), Giuseppe Paci and the La Tifernate Publishing Bookstore. Historical Events and Inventory of the Archives, Perugia, 2015 (Signs of Civilization. Notebooks of the Archival Superintendency for Umbria, 40).
Antonella Lignani (editor), The Il Solco Publishing House of Città di Castello. Historical Events and Inventory of the Archive, Perugia, 2015 (Signs of Civilization. Notebooks of the Archival Superintendency for Umbria, 39).
Giovanna Zaganelli (editor), Typographers, Booksellers, Illustrators. A Look at the Editorial Arts, Pliniana Publishing, Perugia, 2014.
Once at the museum, download the RIM Altotevere App and frame the QR codes placed along the route to access exclusive content.