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Biblioteca Comunale di Urbino

The Biblioteca Comunale di Urbino: A Bibliophile's Paradise in the Heart of the Renaissance

Nestled amidst the picturesque hills of Urbino, a city renowned for its artistic and cultural heritage, lies a treasure trove of knowledge and literary wonders - the Biblioteca Comunale di Urbino. Founded in the 15th century by the illustrious Duke Federico da Montefeltro, a man of extraordinary intellect and a passionate bibliophile, this library stands as a testament to his insatiable thirst for knowledge and his vision of Urbino as a center of learning and culture.

With a collection that spans centuries and encompasses a vast array of subjects, the Biblioteca Comunale di Urbino is a haven for bookworms, scholars, and anyone with a deep appreciation for the written word. Its shelves are lined with over 200,000 volumes, including rare manuscripts, early printed books, and beautifully illuminated codices that transport visitors back in time to the era of the Renaissance.

History of the Biblioteca Comunale di Urbino

The Biblioteca Comunale di Urbino, also known as the Biblioteca Federiciana, holds a remarkable history book collector. Driven by his insatiable curiosity and love of knowledge, Duke Federico established a private library within the walls of his magnificent palace, the Palazzo Ducale.

Throughout the centuries, the library's collection grew steadily, enriched by acquisitions and donations from subsequent dukes, scholars, and benefactors. Notable among these was Ottaviano Ubaldini, a humanist and librarian who played a crucial role in organizing and expanding the collection. In 1608, the library was officially opened to the public, becoming one of the first public libraries in Italy.

The Biblioteca Comunale di Urbino's architectural evolution reflects its changing fortunes and significance. Originally housed in the Palazzo Ducale, the library was later moved to the former Convent of San Francesco di Paola. In 1863, it found its permanent home in the Palazzo Bonaventura, a neoclassical building on Piazza della Repubblica.

Today, the Biblioteca Comunale di Urbino stands as a testament to its rich past, preserving and showcasing centuries of intellectual and cultural heritage for generations to come.

Highlights of the Biblioteca Comunale di Urbino

Amidst the Biblioteca Comunale di Urbino's vast collection, several treasures stand out, captivating the attention of visitors and scholars alike. One such gem is the "Book of Hours of Duke Federico da Montefeltro," an exquisite illuminated manuscript created for the library's founder. Its intricate miniatures, vibrant colors, and gold leaf embellishments offer a glimpse into the artistic and cultural splendor of the Renaissance.

Another highlight is the "Codex Urbinas Latinus 823," a beautifully preserved 11th-century manuscript containing the works of the Roman playwright Terence. Its elegant script, finely crafted initials, and marginal annotations provide valuable insights into the transmission and reception of classical texts during the Middle Ages.

For those interested in early printing, the library boasts a rare first edition of Boccaccio's "Decameron," published in Venice in 149This iconic work of Italian literature, printed by the renowned Aldus Manutius, is a testament to the library's rich collection of incunabula.

Finally, visitors should not miss the unique collection of maps and globes, which offer a fascinating glimpse into the history of cartography. These rare artifacts, including a beautifully hand-drawn map of the world from the 16th century, provide a tangible connection to the explorers and scholars who shaped our understanding of the world.

Special Events

The Biblioteca Comunale di Urbino is not merely a repository of books; it's a vibrant hub for cultural exchange and community engagement. Throughout the year, the library hosts a diverse range of special events, workshops, and exhibitions that bring its collection to life and foster a sense of community.

These events offer a unique opportunity to delve deeper into the library's treasures and connect with fellow bibliophiles, scholars, and culture enthusiasts. From intimate book discussions and author readings to hands-on workshops on calligraphy or bookbinding, the library's programming is designed to cater to a wide range of interests.

One of the most popular events is the annual "Notte dei Musei" (Museum Night), when the library stays open late and offers free admission, guided tours, and special performances. This event draws thousands of visitors who come to experience the library's magic after dark, creating a truly unforgettable atmosphere.

The library also collaborates with local universities and cultural institutions to organize conferences, seminars, and exhibitions on various topics related to literature, history, and the arts. These events provide a platform for experts and enthusiasts to share their knowledge and insights, while also engaging the broader community in thought-provoking discussions.

By participating in these special events, visitors can gain a deeper appreciation for the library's rich heritage, explore new perspectives, and connect with a vibrant community of like-minded individuals. Be sure to check the library's website or social media channels for upcoming events and to plan your visit accordingly.


The Biblioteca Comunale di Urbino is renowned for its commitment to showcasing its collection through rotating exhibitions. These exhibitions delve into various themes and subjects, offering visitors a deeper understanding of the library's treasures and their historical and cultural significance.

The curatorial approach of the exhibitions is commendable, with experts carefully selecting artifacts, manuscripts, and documents to create a cohesive and engaging narrative. The highlights of past exhibitions have captivated visitors, leaving a lasting impression of the library's richness and diversity.

From illuminated manuscripts to rare editions and unique artifacts, the exhibitions offer a glimpse into the library's vast collection. Whether you are an art enthusiast, a history buff, or simply someone who appreciates cultural treasures, you will find something to marvel at in these exhibitions.

To stay informed about current and upcoming exhibitions, be sure to check the library's website or follow its social media channels. Don't miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of books and history through these captivating exhibitions.

Restoration and Preservation

The Biblioteca Comunale di Urbino is committed to preserving its invaluable collection for future generations. The library's dedicated team of conservators works tirelessly behind the scenes to restore and maintain the rare and fragile materials that grace its shelves. They employ a range of specialized techniques to repair damaged manuscripts, reinforce bindings, and prevent the deterioration of precious texts. The library also collaborates with external experts and institutions to share knowledge and best practices in conservation.

The process of restoring and preserving the library's collection is both painstaking and rewarding. Conservators must carefully assess the condition of each item, taking into account factors such as age, materials, and previous interventions. They then develop a tailored conservation plan that may involve cleaning, repairing tears, or rebinding. The library's state-of-the-art conservation laboratory is equipped with the latest technology to assist in this delicate work.

Supporting the library's preservation initiatives is crucial to ensuring the longevity of its collection. Visitors can contribute to these efforts through donations, sponsorships, or volunteering their time. By preserving the Biblioteca Comunale di Urbino's treasures, we safeguard a vital part of our cultural heritage for generations to come.

Research Opportunities

The Biblioteca Comunale di Urbino is a treasure trove for scholars and researchers seeking to delve into the depths of history, literature, and art. The library's rich collection provides a fertile ground for groundbreaking research and collaboration across various disciplines.

To foster scholarly pursuits, the library offers a range of research opportunities and resources. Researchers can apply for grants and fellowships that support their studies and enable them to utilize the library's collection extensively. These grants and fellowships provide financial assistance, access to specialized resources, and opportunities to collaborate with renowned scholars in their respective fields.

The library also hosts residencies for scholars, allowing them to immerse themselves in the unique atmosphere of Urbino and engage in focused research. During these residencies, scholars have the privilege of working closely with the library's expert staff, accessing rare materials, and participating in seminars and workshops.

The Biblioteca Comunale di Urbino has witnessed numerous groundbreaking research projects that have reshaped our understanding of history and culture. Scholars have uncovered hidden gems within the library's collection, leading to publications, exhibitions, and conferences that have garnered international recognition.

If you are a researcher passionate about exploring new frontiers of knowledge, the Biblioteca Comunale di Urbino beckons you with its wealth of resources and opportunities. Embark on a journey of discovery and let the library's treasures inspire your research endeavors.

Guided Tours

Immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of the Biblioteca Comunale di Urbino's history, architecture, and collection through guided tours led by knowledgeable and passionate docents. These tours offer an unparalleled opportunity to delve into the library's fascinating narrative, uncovering the secrets of its origins, its architectural evolution, and the treasures it holds within its hallowed halls.

During these guided tours, you'll journey through time, learning about Duke Federico da Montefeltro's profound love of knowledge that led to the library's creation. You'll marvel at the architectural ingenuity of the library building, with its elegant facade, intricate frescoes, and harmonious blend of Renaissance and Gothic styles.

More importantly, you'll gain exclusive insights into the library's collection, handling rare and precious volumes, and discovering the stories behind some of its most prized possessions. From illuminated manuscripts adorned with exquisite miniatures to early printed books that revolutionized the dissemination of knowledge, each item tells a tale of human creativity, scholarship, and the enduring power of the written word.

Guided tours of the Biblioteca Comunale di Urbino are available at specific times throughout the day and can be booked in advance to ensure your spot. Whether you're a history buff, a book lover, or simply someone who appreciates cultural heritage, these tours promise an unforgettable experience that will leave you spellbound.

Educational Programs

The Biblioteca Comunale di Urbino extends its reach beyond its walls through a diverse array of educational programs and workshops tailored to students, teachers, and the general public. These initiatives aim to foster a love for reading, cultivate research skills, and instill an appreciation for cultural heritage in the hearts of participants.

One of the library's flagship programs is the "Young Readers Club," which introduces children to the magical world of books and storytelling. Through interactive sessions, children engage in read-alouds, creative writing exercises, and book-themed activities, sparking their imagination and nurturing a lifelong passion for literature.

For students and educators, the library offers specialized workshops on research methodologies, critical thinking, and information literacy. These workshops equip participants with the tools to navigate the library's vast collection effectively, enabling them to conduct in-depth research for academic projects or personal enrichment.

The library also hosts public lectures, seminars, and book discussions on a variety of topics, inviting renowned authors, scholars, and experts to share their knowledge and insights with the community. These events provide a platform for intellectual exchange, stimulating discussions, and fostering a sense of community among book enthusiasts.

Through these educational endeavors, the Biblioteca Comunale di Urbino plays a vital role in promoting literacy, empowering researchers, and cultivating a new generation of informed and engaged citizens.


The Biblioteca Comunale di Urbino is committed to ensuring that its collection and services are accessible to all visitors, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. The library offers a range of special accommodations and assistive technologies to make its resources available to everyone. Visually impaired visitors can take advantage of the library's collection of audiobooks and large-print books. Hearing-impaired visitors can utilize the library's assistive listening devices and closed captioning services. Mobility-impaired visitors can easily navigate the library's accessible entrances, elevators, and designated parking spaces. The library staff is also trained to assist visitors with disabilities and ensure that they have a positive and fulfilling experience at the Biblioteca Comunale di Urbino.

Insider Tip:

For an unforgettable experience, visit the Biblioteca Comunale di Urbino on a weekday morning. As you step into the hushed reading rooms, you'll find yourself surrounded by the gentle rustling of pages and the faint scent of aging paper. Take your time to explore the library's hidden corners, where you might stumble upon a rare manuscript or a forgotten treasure. Don't miss the Sala della Metafisica, a secret room adorned with stunning frescoes that seem to transport you to another realm. For a truly immersive experience, ask a librarian to show you the library's collection of medieval codices, where you can marvel at the exquisite craftsmanship and artistry of these ancient texts. Bookworms and bibliophiles will be in paradise in this sanctuary of knowledge, where the whispers of history echo between the shelves.

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