Alessandra Di Castro descends from an old Roman family of antique dealers working in the sector since 1878. The historic shop faces Piazza di Spagna. The gallery’s entrance leads through a secret courtyard boasting a wealth of colored marble to the intimate and private rooms of a historic 17th-century palazzo where antique paintings, sculptures and precious objets d’art from the Renaissance to early Neoclassicism are exhibited. The works, which Alessandra Di Castro selects personally, come primarily from private collections and show a distinctive and recognizable taste.
Having received a degree both in Art History from the La Sapienza University in Rome, and in decorative arts from the Study Center in London, Alessandra Di Castro is Chairwoman of the Jewish Museum Foundation in Rome. In 2019, she received the Iris Award from the Bard Graduate Center in New York for distinguishing herself in the field of decorative arts. In December 2019, she was elected President of the Italian Antiquarians Association. Since 2020, she has sat on the TEFAF Board of Trustees.
“Rome is the city where my family has always lived and worked: I would choose it again any day.”
Alessandra Di Castro. Courtesy Alessandra Di Castro, Rome.
In conversation with Alessandra Di Castro
What are your predictions for the future of the art system in your sector? What is the biggest challenge you will have to face?
The Covid-19 pandemic has entailed an acceleration in digital communication. We have experimented with many tools: social networks, digital trade fairs, e-commerce. This has given antique dealers new sales tools, among which the primary is HD photography. However, the encounter between collectors and gallery owners remains fundamental; in front of a work of art, they will always share the emotion that only physical presence can give.
How did your career in art begin?
I represent the fourth generation of a family of Roman antique dealers. My training, which began alongside my father Franco, led me to earn a degree in Art History in Rome and to graduate in decorative arts from the Study Center in London. I receive my clients in our historic gallery in Piazza di Spagna. I am President of the Italian Antiquarians Association and of the Jewish Museum Foundation of Rome, and as of this year, I am on the board of TEFAF.
Why did you choose this city?
Rome is the city where my family has always lived and worked: I would choose it again any day. Universal and Eternal, you can breathe in art on the street corners, in its courtyards, palazzos, churches, but also in the quiet of antique galleries. Moreover, among the various European capitals, it is one of the cities with the greatest potential for development: I am convinced that once the Covid-19 pandemic is over, a new “Roman Risorgimento” will await us.
An Italian institution you are particularly attached to?
In Italy, the Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, which plays a fundamental role in the ecosystem of the art world, is an institution that I would like to mention here, precisely because I work in a country that throughout its millenary history has uninterruptedly produced works of art unparalleled worldwide in terms of quantity and quality. The role of the TPC is fundamental for the control and protection of a transparent and reliable market.
What would be your desert-island work of art?
Without a doubt, my collection of intaglios and cameos. Hardstone carving is perhaps one of the oldest and most unique of art forms. In Rome, ever since ancient times, there has always been a school of gemmari, gemstone engravers and carvers, with famous workshops hidden away along the streets of the center. Holding in the palm of your hand an exquisite, small work of art capable of satisfying even the most extreme aesthetic needs offers an emotion that I would never want to live without.