Homeless Man Opens an Underpass Library

In the neighborhood of Le Cure, a man named Marco has started an unusual endeavor: a public library in the railway underpass. Since the fall of 2023, Marco, who is homeless, has set up a temporary home in the underpass, which connects Viale Don Minzoni and Viale dei Mille. He’s not alone in this regard, as several others use the walkway as shelter from the elements. He is, however, the only residential librarian. 

As fall became winter, Marco hatched a plan to start a circulatory system with 10 books he happened to have in his possession. A book could be rented and returned for a small fee, giving Marco an outlet for profit. As word traveled of Marco and his library, Le Cure residents began to chip in, bringing their unused books to Marco to bolster his supply. “It’s nice to give these novels a life cycle again,” Marco told la Repubblica. Among his volumes are Wilbur Smith, Noam Chomsky, and some of the Harry Potter series, written in English.  

Marco has been able to use the profits to help other unhoused people in similar situations. Before being welcomed by Le Cure, he used to work as a waiter. The job allowed him room and board at an apartment, but he quickly found the industry to be volatile and unsustainable. After quitting, he found solace in the idea of a library in a railway underpass. Now, he has been at it for the better part of a year, growing his enterprise and bettering his community. He has aspirations of opening a book stall in one of the city’s markets, achieving more stability and a wider audience. 

Florence has been launching efforts to help the homeless population of the city, especially in the winter months. Places like this Le Cure underpass have undergone examinations and preliminary renovations in order to provide a short term solution for those who will hopefully be able to find better long-term lodging. While the government does its job, Marco will continue his. His remarkable mission is an inspiration to the neighborhood and city as a whole (Colin Healy).

To read more in Italian, visit Florence’s La Repubblica news site.