La geometria di Dante: exploring the Florence libraries through the Divine Comedy


5 June.  Arrived in Florence on Sunday, settled into my new apartment (with four other girls all studying in Florence).  Today was the first day in the library.  On the plane from Dublin I chatted to a Florentine couple about my work who told me they had a good friend in the library who would be happy to help me with my research.  So, when I arrived in the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze this morning -- after a number of bureacratic ordeals (not too bad though) -- I made my way up to the Sala di Consultazione.  

By chance, my friend from the airplane was right there, with his friend already working in the library.  Everyone has been so lovely.  I got quick access to the Sala dei Manoscritti (a beautiful old room with a tall ceiling and students still laboring over the manuscripts that they have to prop up on old wooden stands).  I figured out how to request the printed books, which I think I'll spend most of my time reading.  They are still very old and beautiful thanks to the Venice printing press, which was developed quickly during the Renaissance.  

After my lunch break, I came back to find that some of the staff had changed in the Consultation Room.  The lovely woman who had been helping me all morning introduced me to her colleague, a brilliant man, who sat with me for about an hour and talked to me about Dante and Aristotle and the various humanist efforts in Italy and pagan influences on architecture, literature and philosophy during the Renaissance.

 Eventually he told me he had to go back to work, but then continued to bring me old books on Renaissance iconography and famous commentaries on Dante.  Not much else I can do today since the books I've requested for consultation will be delivered tomorrow.  But, at least I have my access card to the library as well as a good orientation and some friendly new acquaintances who have helped me in every way possible.

Alla prossima...