Saturday, December 5, 2009
Getting My Library Card
This morning I met Massimo for a caffè at Così, the buzzingest pasticerria in my neighborhood. The scent of pastries emanating from their ovens attracts passers-by from blocks away. I pass here day in, day out, and find it hard to resist the temptation to grab a quick caffè while on the run.
Massimo is a native Florentine who is seeking to improve his English, and we connected through a language exchange program. We are helping each other with our individual language goals. As we explored topics of common interest, we got talking about local language resources and he asked me if I had been to the Biblioteca delle Oblate, a library right around the corner from me, which I've passed by a million times but never went in.
How do I explain this negligence? Florence has become the backdrop of my life. I have spent this past year of my life establishing the fundamentals of a whole new way of life, adapting to my new culutre. I can only experience the myriad treasures around me a little at a time. In the meantime, to be here, to know it's here, to be inspired by its energy, has been enough to plant me. As I start my second year here, I find myself at a new stage of my developing life in Florence, all ready to examine the contents of this paradise that I have found. ....And here I go.
Massimo led the way to the library, where he took me for a tour of this gem that is hidden among the now-usual palatial facades of the streets that surround me. He then brought me to the desk where I applied for my library card. The library was originally a 13th century convent which was recently restored. Underground are tunnels that lead from the convent to the adjacent Santa Maria Nuova Hospital. In these tunnels, Leonardo da Vinci conducted medical research. The structure is historically rich, yet it houses a contemporary collection.
The three levels include a floor dedicated to multimedia, where one can borrow CD's, movies and DVD's, and use their wireless internet and computers. There, I was particularly pleased to browse through their collection of Italian films which I will certainly be taking advantage of. Fascinated I was, to browse through their assortment of American music CD's. The ground floor houses a history collection dating from the Risorgimento and the top floor is dedicated to a children's collection. It also houses a section dedicated to opera that was also pleasing. Equally rich are its collections of art and literature.
This library was a real find for me. The interior courtyard's peaceful garden is a perfect place to read or study, but the 3rd floor loggia clearly offers the most silent, dramatic vantage point of the Duomo. As you approach the outdoor loggia, you are hit with an unexpected, striking close-up view of the Duomo which dominates the atmosphere, creating a powerful sense of inspiration, rendering this the ultimate spot in Florence to read a book, study, sip a caffè and gaze at the Duomo while listening to it's bells....a constant reminder that I am lucky to call this place my home.
For my first selection, I borrowed a classic Italian neorealistic film "L'Oro di Napoli", a real treasure, and watched it tonight at home, in a corner of my living room, where I can gaze out of the window to look at the Duomo and take in the inspiration that it always gives me.
Posted by Barbara at 11:53 PM