Ravenna, Cesena, Modena
What a wealth of rare and valuable books, kept in the most beautiful historic libraries!
On Tuesday 21st September we enjoyed a marvellous excursion to two of the most beautiful historic sites of the Renaissance: Cesena and Ravenna. The Malatestiana Library in Cesena, with its chained incunables, belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage. In the Renaissance Monastic Library with its perfectly conserved furniture we admired splendid antique manuscripts, 15th Century choir books, the Biblioteca Piana which belonged to Pope Pio VII and the Galleria dell’Immagine. The ultimate highlight: Ravenna, city of mosaics. There was a guided tour through the medieval streets of the historic centre along monuments like the Mausoleo di Galla Placidia, the Basilica di S. Vitale, the Battistero degli Ariani – with a stop at the tomb of the father of the Italian language: Dante Alighieri. The Classense Library is a superlative. The Camaldolites kept a collection of sacred and profane texts as early as 1230. After 1515, when the monks had been moved to Ravenna the collection was transformed into a library. Over the centuries – and thanks to Abbot Pietro Canneti (1659-1730) – hundreds of prestigious books were added to the “Classense”. Today it is considered one of the most significant libraries in Italy.
Wednesday, 22nd September, back to Bologna's Comunale dall’Archiginnasio. A monumental staircase leads to the Museo Internazionale e Biblioteca della Musica with Giuseppe Maria Crespi’s famous music bookcase doors, in which the artist has depicted a view of Padre Martini’s music library. Padre Martini built up the largest collection of contemporary music books during the 17th century. The museum holds precious manuscripts and music prints dating to the 1500s and 1700s, a collection of 12.000 opera librettos and original manuscripts. Next stop on our tour de force through Bologna’s bibliophile treasures was the University Library. In 1712, Luigi Ferdinando Marsili, donated his scientific collection – among them 900 oriental manuscripts – to the Istituto delle Scienze. This is the core of the library to which manuscripts, prints, woodcuts and watercolours by the great Bolognese naturalist Ulisse Aldrovandi were added during the 18th century. In 1755 Pope Benedict XIV donated 25.000 printed volumes and 450 manuscripts. He also ordered the printers in Bologna to give a copy of every printed work to the library which was recognized as “University Library” in the 19th century. Still hungry for beautiful books the ILAB affiliates visited the famous Biblioteca Estense in Modena. Bibliophile treasures in abundance: More than 400.000 volumes, incunabula, illuminated codices, musical manuscripts, among which the most significant work conserved is the Bible of Borso D’Este, a stunning example of the Ferrara school and its art of miniature. The Estense keeps a number of geographical maps, which precede or immediately follow the discovery of America, such as the Carta Catalana, which dates back to the end of the XV Century, and the Carta del Cantino, which depicts the coasts of America.
Is that all? No! At the Azienda Agricola Hombre we tasted delicious organic food, surrounded by a fascinating collection of Maserati vintage cars. After a two days journey into the history of printing we were back to the 21st century.