A trip in the past through antique volumes and codes
The Guarneriana Library of San Daniele del Friuli is a special one among the most interesting book collections due to its engaging history and founder's life. Indeed, it was established by Guarnerio d'Artegna in 1449, when this patron, as the result of the progression of his job and important friendships, started his dream out on creating a library.
Who was Guarnerio d'Artegna though? He was born around 1400 in a castle, as he was of wealthy lineage, and he graduated in law in Padova. After the graduation, he moved to Rome as an assistant within the families of noble and ecclesiastic figures (from Antonio Panciera, the bishop of Aquileia to the patriarch of Grado Biagio dal Molin), to eventually become responsible for the Pontifical Chancellor. The Roman stay allowed Guarnerio to develop his personal and cultural knowledge of classical and linguistic competencies. After serving Pope Eugenio VI, he returned to Friuli to cover different clerical roles and duties, which guaranteed him enough income to expand his personal library further. In this time, Guarnerio also worked has a codes copyist and when it was appointed as a priest with a permanent residence in San Daniele, he began to imagine the Guarneriana Library full of classical and contemporary volumes, following the new ideals and values of humanism. After stepping down from his task of Vicarial Patriarch between 1454 and 1455, he utterly devoted himself to sort the library out into an inventory of different categories: religious, juridical, classical and humanistic. Guarnerio died of plague in 1466, leaving his house and the books collection to the community, with the expressed request that the Church should be looking after his goods. In 1736, the library had increased its literature asset by the donation of Giusto Fontanini who was a priest who had built his education, career and personal collection in Rome during his stay. Due to legacy controversies, only the most important part of Giusto's books had gathered into the Guarneriana, in a number of a hundred manuscripts and more than two thousand of printed texts.
We had a deep and interesting tour, both historically and culturally, as the precious guide – who should be the custodian of the Library – was of full competence and he let us see the amazing works of arts shielded in the venue.
By the way, if you are interested to visit this outstanding building, do not forget to bring warm clothes with you, as the rooms are cool due to preservation reasons.
All the group had been mesmerised by this venue, soaked through history, culture and priceless books and codes. The guide carefully opened the papers with gloves, and eventually showed us the cherry on top: a whole Divine Comedy written in one parchment that had been a result of a handwriting exercise.
CIVICA BIBLIOTECA GUARNERIANA via Roma, 1 e 10 33038 S. Daniele del Friuli