Manutius in Montefiascone


View of Lake Bolsena from Montefiascone

View of Lake Bolsena from Montefiascone

Apologies for the absence of posts over the last while but the VV team have been off on their well deserved holidays after what has been a very eventful year. Saying that part of the trip has been working at Seminario Barbarigo in Montefiascone, Lazio, Italy as part of the Montefiascone Conservation Project

The Montefiascone Conservation Project is a non profit making organisation originally conceived in order to save the virtually derelict library in the Seminary.  In 1988 Nicolas Barker, then Head of Preservation at the British Library, was invited to appraise the collection. Working with Cheryl Porter, a book conservator and pigment specialist, a project was established to save the collections. Book and paper conservators from across the world came to help with the preservation and conservation of the books in the library. This includes conserving, cataloguing and photographing the collections.

Julianne working in the Library, with Bob Proctor ex Fitzwilliam Museum and Library

Julianne working in the Library, with Bob Proctor ex Fitzwilliam Museum and Library

making books

making books

A programme of summer schools was started to run in parallel with the library preservation project. The Montefiascone School takes place every year during the last week in July and the first three weeks in August. There are four separate courses given by different tutors and these provide an opportunity for librarians, conservators, and those interested in the history and conservation of books, to work and study together.

Gaia Petralla, Kristine Rose, Cheryl Porter and Caroline Checkley-Scott outside the Seminary

Gaia Petrella, Kristine Rose, Cheryl Porter and Caroline Checkley-Scott outside the Seminary

The seminary was founded by Marc Antonio Barbarigo, appointed Bishop of Montefiascone in 1687 after acting to prevent the Venetian fleet from invading Papal territory. He came from a distinguished Venetian family which provides us with another link back to Manutius. His ancestor Pierfrancesco Barbarigo was one of the original partners in Aldus’s publishing enterpise. Marc Antonio brought with him to Montefiascone many manuscripts and printed books – in Latin, Arabic, Aramaic, Syrian, Greek, Italian and some in a combination of one or more of these languages. Other notable books in the collection bear the stamp of Cardinal Garampi. Born to a noble family in Rimini, he was appointed Bishop of Montefiascone and Corneto in 1776 and remained here until his death in 1792. The collection had suffered after many years of neglect. Some books were transferred to the diocesan seminary at Santa Maria della Quercia near Viterbo, and others have gone missing over the years. After twenty five years of work by the Project the library is now in much better order.

Cardinal Marc Antonio Barbarigo

Cardinal Marc Antonio Barbarigo

Plans are afoot for linking the Manutius in Manchester activities with those in Montefiascone. Caroline and Julianne will run a course on the history and making of an Aldine book in a binding from the Library at Fontainebleau now in the John Rylands Collections. This will coincide with a mini conference, and there is even talk of a limited edition wine! Check out the project website for details to come.

If you want to come you had better sign up quickly – places are filling fast and we have not even advertised yet!

Nicholas Barker in the Library

Nicolas Barker in the Library

We will also hold a mini exhibition of Aldines held at the Barbarigo Library, showing examples such as this.



The  four week long Summer project in Montefiascone coincides with the Est Est Est wine festival, and there is always Lago di Bolsena. More soon …





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