Hidden Gems of Italy: The Malatesta Library in Cesena


Perle nascoste d’Italia: la Biblioteca Malatestiana a Cesena
Malatesta Library
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Among the numerous UNESCO sites of Italy, a little-known jewel is the Malatesta Library in Cesena, the only example of a conventual humanist library perfectly preserved in the building, furnishings and manuscript collection, as recognized by UNESCO, which inserted it in its ‘Memory of the World’ program in 2008, the first in Italy.

The Malatesta library is a splendid Renaissance library which retains the original furnishings and an important collection of illuminated manuscripts thanks to the joint custody of the friars and the city.

The idea of the library is indeed attributed to the friars of the convent of San Francesco in Cesena (Emilia-Romagna). Around the mid-15th century, the local Franciscan friars no longer had room for their large archive of manuscripts stored in their small library, and asked Domenico Malatesta, Lord of Cesena, to help them build a new facility.

Malatesta willingly accepted and entrusted Matteo Nuti, a student of the great Renaissance architect Leon Battista Alberti, with the task of directing the construction work. The Malatesta Library is inspired by the library of the Dominican convent of San Marco in Florence by Michelozzo (1444).

Malatesta arranged for the library to be administered both by the friars and the city’s administrative bodies, a choice that was unusual for the time, but which contributed to its perfect state of preservation. It also made it one of the oldest public libraries in Europe.

It is thanks to the work of monastic libraries such as the Malatesta Library that precious ancient classical texts have been preserved and handed down through generations.

When you visit, you can picture the amanuensis friars bent over the lecterns, intent on copying books and creating beautiful miniatures with great care and patience.

In the library, you will also find many curiosities, such as the smallest book in the world readable without a magnifying glass; it measures 15 × 9 mm.


Tra i numerosi siti Unesco d'Italia, un gioiello poco conosciuto è la Biblioteca Malatestiana di Cesena, unico esempio di biblioteca umanistica conventuale perfettamente conservata nell’edificio, negli arredi e nei manoscritti, come riconosciuto dall'UNESCO, che l'ha inserita nel suo registro ‘Memoria del Mondo’ nel 2008, prima in Italia.

La Biblioteca Malatestiana è una splendida biblioteca rinascimentale che conserva gli arredi originali e un'importante raccolta di manoscritti min

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