Visiting Medici Library, Florence, Italy

By wasatch | Aug 10, 2020
Europe > Italy > Tuscany > Florence

Reading Room

Reading Room

By the time Columbus sailed, Lorenzo the Magnificent had assembled the world's largest library and built an addition to the Medici Palace in Florence to house it. Lorenzo the Magnificent was so into books that he had on his personal staff a personal librarian, a book loving friend whose job was to travel around the EU and buy any book he came across that was not already in Lorenzo the Magnificent's library. Although Lorenzo the Magnificent was the world's richest man, in the mid 1400s, rich wasn't what it is today even in the time of Prince Nicholas the Magnificent Esterhazy. The library is pretty plain, functional rather than one upping the neighbors. There were quite a few rows of what looked like church pews with a desk. Lorenzo the Magnificent seems to have opened his library to others, lots of otters, for reading form his collection. The really interesting thing was the display of selected volumes from the collection. The history of books was illustrated with examples of how books developed before the printing press.


After a few centuries, spaces between words were invented to speed up reading. Then sentences. Then upper case letters to signal the start of a sentence. Then paragraphs. Then using upper case for proper names.

Although written in unreadable Gothic Latin, these book were an interesting look at the early history of man's greatest invention: reading.

Lorenzo the Magnificent opened the library to the public and built a large reading room that looks a lot like a church seating area. Long pews, only with a long desk in front of the seats. The surface of the desk was slanted to make reading easier.

BTW: The Medici family is largely responsible for today's fame of Florence. The last Medici lived in the Uffizi Palace whose builder wont broke trying to out do the Medici. The Medici bailed him out by buying his grand place for their own, The last Medici died shortly after Austria conquered most of northern Italy, including the Medici lands. Her will left everything the Medici had accumulated, over the centuries -- art land palaces, statuary-- to the cit of Florence with one provision-- the city could never sell any of it. Artists like Michelangelo were Medici house staff.

The Medici fortune was largely created by Cosimo I. who built up such a pile of money that his more or less incompetent descendants couldn't break the bank, although one guy is reported to have spent an average of $3,000,000 (in current US $) a day while he was head of the family... You will notice a similarity between Cosimo's family and the family of Fred Trump who left son Donald $400,000,000 which Donny turned into 6 bankruptcies and several fraud schemes like trump University.

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Written by wasatch
1st international trip: 1965. ~57 EU vacations. Visited 6 continets. Extensive USA travel. You can email me at

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