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  • Writer's pictureMark Tedesco

Our Italian Adventure: Studying in Rome's Historical Libraries

Updated: Jun 2

Our Italian Adventure: Studying in Rome's Historical Libraries


PART 91: It might be interesting to share how we managed to live in Italy for part of the year. I will post some steps and what we are learning along the way.


We love every minute of it, and what was once a dream is our life!


We live in Tuscany in the Fall, then back again in the Spring, and in California for the rest of the time (in a previous blog, I explained why we live in Italy only part of the year).


This week I am in Rome experiencing some of its historical libraries.


Step 1: As we explore areas in Italy, we are discovering some gems that are worth sharing. Some of these are well known tourist magnets; others are lesser known but always amazing.


This week, let's take a field trip to Rome and explore accessing and studying in Rome's historical libraries.


Step 2: Vallicelliana Library

Right now, I am sitting in the Biblioteca Vallicelliana, which dates from 1565 and is in the center of Rome, near Piazza Navona and next to Chiesa Nuova.



First, some history:


The Vallicelliana Library (Biblioteca Vallicelliana) was established in 1565 by the Oratory Fathers, who loved books. It's linked to Saint Philip Neri and the Congregation of the Oratory. The Library was officially recognized by Pope Gregory XIII in 1575. The ancient Library of the Oratory Fathers, also known as the Borromini Hall, was inaugurated in 1644. It has 16 windows, a balcony, and a wooden coffered ceiling. The Library has over 130,000 volumes on Medieval Studies, History of the Church, Rome, and Lazio. There's a separate study room with computer outlets and Wi-Fi access. To enter, one must show ID and fill out a brief form, and then proceed to the reading room, where I am sitting right now.


Step 3: Why go to a historical library?


There are many reasons to visit a historical library in Rome or elsewhere, but my main focus is to continue my writing practice and be productive while visiting.



Rome is magical to me, and every time I visit the city, it feels like a little corner of my life has changed. However, since I know the city so well (having lived here for 8 years in the past), aimlessly wandering the streets doesn't work for me anymore. When I visited Rome last year, I decided that when I stay here for more than a few days, I would make a historical library a part of my daily routine along with the gym.


The atmosphere of a place feeds my imagination, and it reflects in my writing. For instance, when I visited the 4th-century house of the soldiers John and Paul (near the Colosseum) years ago, the vibe or spirit of the place brought these two men alive for me and eventually led to my historical novel on their lives and adventures. Similarly, working within a 15th-century library gives me a sense of the flow of history I am part of.


And so, as I sit here, I am inspired to write this blog.


Step 4: Other historical libraries nearby



Last night, I attended a concert at the church of St. Ignatius near the Pantheon. Before the concert, we took a walk around the area and came across a stunning entrance to another historical library. The sign outside indicated that its study room was open. Later, we spotted another library in Piazza Minerva, next to Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. I went inside and asked if I could use their study room, and they said yes, as long as I didn't make any phone calls. So, I found three libraries in the area, but I wonder if there are more nearby.


Step 5: Other historical libraries worth visiting


  • Angelica Library (Biblioteca Angelica)

  • The Library of the Senate (Biblioteca del Senato)

  • Biblioteca Casanatense


Before showing up at historical libraries in Rome, it's best to check their website or speak with an admin on site.


Step 6: Libraries with outdoor reading space


There are even libraries in Rome with calm and peaceful outdoor reading spaces. There are too many to name, so I will include the link in Italian here: https://www.bibliotechediroma.it/opac/news/sale-studio-allaperto/33045


Step 7: Study space in museums in Rome


The Capitoline Council in Rome recently approved a resolution to establish a network of study rooms within its library system. The study rooms will be civic spaces for studying, reading, and gathering with longer opening hours than traditional library reading rooms. The network will be coordinated by the Library Institution of Rome and will include spaces from Roma Capitale, third parties, and city cultural institutions. All study rooms that join the network will be advertised on a single web portal starting from 2024.


One such museum study space is near Piazza Navona at Museo di Roma a Palazzo Braschi (https://www.informagiovaniroma.it/aule-studio-capitoline/).


Step 8: Vatican Library?


The Vatican Library is one of the most renowned libraries in Rome, and many people desire to visit, explore and browse its collections. However, access to the library is restricted to individuals who are conducting specific research and can provide documentation of their educational status. You can find the criteria for working in the Vatican Library by visiting this website: https://www.vaticanlibrary.va.


Insights: Having a purposeful visit to Rome, for me, means not only discovering the city's treasures, but finding a place where I can write, reflect and be inspired. Rome's historical libraries fulfill all three criteria.


More next time.


Now on sale for $2.99: My book is "Stories from Puglia: Two Californians in Southern Italy." Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CRKMKPWF?ref_=cm_sw_r_cp_ud_dp_X2WRQ3PTG2ZDD7AVF6GH


Amazon Italy- my book "Lei mi ha sedotto. Una storia d'amore con Roma": https://amzn.eu/d/13nuZCL.


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