Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Smiling H1 - 700x180

Zalib, A Space for All

Walking into a store filled with wonder, adventure, education, and romance condensed into pieces of paper with ink is not an everyday occurrence in our media and technology-reliant world. Bookstores are few and far between nowadays, and for many, there is an overwhelming difficulty in staying afloat.

Zalib was a beloved bookstore for over twenty-one years, owned by Marco Zavarone. Its name is derived from "Za-" for Zavarone and "lib-" for Library.

In 2017, economic struggles brought Zalib face-to-face with the possibility of closure. Zalib had been a safe and cherished space for many of Trastevere’s high school teens—a place where they could study and escape the everyday hustle and bustle of their Roman lives.

With closure imminent, the high schoolers rallied together to fight for what they cared about so deeply. They created a social movement to advocate for their space via social media and local newspapers. After a year of struggling, the Metropolitan of Rome granted them the location they stand in today, allowing them to redesign their bookstore into something more for their community.

Today, Zalib is a "left-leaning arts and cultural center where people can be free to express themselves," as Max, a worker there, described. This transformation is reflected in comments on their Facebook page, calling it "a place of life!" and "one of the most active and freshest cultural laboratories in the capital."

In the beginning of Zalib’s new life, there were no membership fees due to its status as an independent association. However, as time went on, there was a need to ensure Zalib could obtain the proper documentation to operate legally. Therefore, an eight-euro annual membership fee was introduced. This money goes towards documentation, allowing it to operate as an independent association that can legally sell alcohol, coffee, food, and more.

Zalib offers much to its community—a place for work, fun, and fitness. They host events such as acting workshops, book presentations with famous authors, family events, poetry readings, comedy shows, and gym fitness sessions every Friday evening.

"Mostly we do presentations because we have had trouble with the neighborhood in the past with loud live music," states Jasper, a worker there for four years. They used to host live bands and movie nights, but due to noise complaints from the surrounding neighborhood, they had to cease these activities.

It is clear that Zalib and its employees care deeply for their community. As Jasper remarked, "We work in a bar, but it is a community—this space is for everyone who follows our mindset."

Zalib is more than just a bookstore; it is a beacon of community, culture, and resilience. In a time where bookstores are struggling to survive, it has created a unique space by transforming itself into a dynamic multi-cultural safe space. Through its history of overcoming adversity, fostering a diverse and inclusive environment, and offering a number of different events for all, Zalib exemplifies the power of community, human connection, and creativity.

As digital media continues to grow, the existence of places like Zalib becomes even more critical. They serve as reminders of the importance of physical spaces where people can gather, share ideas, and experience human interaction face-to-face. Its journey from a struggling bookstore against new norms to a thriving cultural center is a story of hope, innovation, and the enduring power of community support. It stands as a model for how we can adapt and flourish in this changing world, proving that with community and a willingness to evolve, anything is possible.

General Info

Address Via della Penitenza, 35, 00165 Roma RM, Italia

View on Map

Zalib, A Space for All

Via della Penitenza, 35, 00165 Roma RM, Italia

JCU 724x450
Smiling H3 - 1920x190
Smiling H3 - 1920x190
Smiling H3 - 1920x190
Acorn P H3 - 320 x 480
Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia