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The Biblioteca Nazionale of Milan, better known as the Braidense, founded in 1770 by Maria Theresa, has 500,000 printed vols., 2,000 mss., 2,500 incunabula and 913 Aldines. Amongst the mss. are letters of Galileo, poems in Tasso's auto graph, and a fine series of Italian illuminated service-books, 12th to i6th centuries.
The Biblioteca Nazionale at Naples (founded in
and opened in 1804) is the largest library of that city, and has recently been splendidly re-housed. To the collection of Cardinal Seripando were added, especially in 1848 and 186o, many private and conventual libraries. The biblical section is rich. Other feat ures are the collections of testi di lingua, and of books on vol canoes, the best in existence of the publications of Italian learned societies and a nearly complete set of the Bodoni press. The mss. include many illuminated books, the autographs of Leopardi, and portolani. The library contains about i,000,000 printed vols., 11,868 mss. and 4,625 incunabula. Annexed to it is the Officina dei Papiri Ercolanesi.
The Biblioteca Nazionale of Palermo, founded from the Jesuits' libraries, is rich in 15th century books (catalogue printed in 1875), in Aldines, and Sicilian i6th century books, many being unique. The library contains 283,227 printed volumes.
The Biblioteca Nazionale Universitaria of Turin took its origin in the private library of the House of Savoy, given in 1720 to the university by Vittorio Amedeo II. The fire of
destroyed about 24,000 out of 300,00o vols., and of the 4,138 mss. there survive but 1,500, and those in a damaged condition. Among those that perished were the palimpsests of Cicero, Cassidorus, the Codex Theodosianus and the famous Livre d'Heures. The 1,095 incunabula escaped. Since the fire the library has been enriched by new gifts, notably Baron A. Lumbroso's of 30,000 vols., principally on the French Revolution and Empire. The library was, in 1910, transferred to the premises of the Palazzo of the Debito Pubblico.
The Biblioteca Marciana, or library of St. Mark, at Venice, was traditionally founded in 1362 by Petrarch's gift of mss. (all now lost) and opened by Cardinal Bessarione in 1468. It has 330,00o printed books, 12,106 mss. of great value (more than r,000 Greek codices given by Bessarione), collections on Venetian history, music and theatre, and on early geographical research, a codex of the laws of the Lombards, and the autograph ms. of Sarpi's History of the Council of Trent. Since the fall of the republic and the suppression of the monasteries, many private and conventual libraries have been incorporated first in the Libreria del Sansovino, from which the library was transferred in 1812 to the Palazzo Ducale, and in 1904 to the Palazzo della Zecca (the Mint).
Among the university libraries under Government control some deserve special notice. First in his torical importance comes that of Bologna, founded by U. Aldro vandi (1605). Count Luigi F. Marsili in 1712 increased the library and established an Instituto delle Scienze, reconstituted as a public library by Benedict XIV. in 1756. The printed books number 214,991 vols., and the mss. 5,400, the oriental being noteworthy. The grand hall, with its fine furniture in walnut wood, merits particular attention. The Biblioteca della Universita at Naples, established by Joachim Murat in 1812 in the buildings of Monte Oliveto, and thence sometimes called the "Biblioteca Gioacchimo," was transferred to the Royal university and opened in 1827. It is strongest in medicine and science; its chief mss. and early printed books were transferred about the middle of the 19th century to the Nazionale. Other important university libraries are those of Catania (i755) ; Genoa (1773) ; Pavia (1763) ; Padua (1629) (314,000 vols.), which in 1910 was housed in a new build ing ; Cagliari and Sassari. Messina was destroyed in the earth quake of 1908, but the more important part of the furniture was saved, and by 1910 the library was already restored to active work.
Chief among the remaining Government libraries comes the world-famed Biblioteca Mediceo Laurenziana at Florence, formed from the collections of Cosimo the Elder, Pietro de' Medici, and Lorenzo the Magnificent. It was made public by Clement VII., who charged Michelangelo to construct a suitable edifice for its reception. Opened by Cosimo I. in 1571, it has steadily grown. The accessions in the 18th century alone were enough to double it. Its printed books number probably only I i,000, and though almost all of the highest rarity and interest, the 10,017 mss. give its chief importance to this library. More than 700 are earlier than the 11th century. Some of them are the most valuable codices in the world—the famous Virgil of the 4th or 5th century, Justinian's Pandects of the 6th, a Homer of the loth, and several other very early Greek and Latin classical and biblical texts, as well as copies in the handwriting of Petrarch, about loo codices of Dante, a Decameron copied by a contemporary from Boc caccio's own ms., and Benvenuto Cellini's ms. of his autobiography. Administered with the Laurentian is the Riccardiana, rich in mss. of Italian, and especially the Florentine literature. The Biblioteca Marucelliana (founded 1703, opened 1753) is remarkable for its early woodcuts and engravings; the printed volumes number 310,000 and the mss. 2,000.