Friday, October 15, 2010

Biblioteca Angelica

The library was founded in 1604 by the Augustinians whose church, San Agostino, is right next door. The library holds the record as the first public library in Italy and can still be accessed by practically anyone. It houses a large collection of early manuscripts including the Codex Angelicus, a Byzantine New Testament. The reading room is quite beautiful with ambient light reflected off the ceiling from the upper windows and the shelves reaching all the way up to the beginning of the groin vaulted ceiling. Two tiers of precarious little walkways encircling the room ad are accessed by spiral staircases hidden in the walls behind doors painted to look like laden book cases. The lower windows are usually left open, so that one can see up from the street to the stacks of books and those inside can hear the bustle of the surrounding city.