The library of the hermitage Fonte Avellana is one of the oldest ones as it was founded in the year 980 together with the monastery itself, which also includes the crypt ( 10th century), the church (12th century), the sacristy ( 18th century), the cloister ( 11th century) and the scriptorium ( 12th century).
It belongs to the Camaldulese monks of the Order of St. Benedict. Since Medieval times, close to the scriptorium where works were copied and written by the Holy Fathers, there’s always been a vast library which Saint Pier Damiani requested for the community of Avellana ( 11th century), and which was later widened by Cardinal Bressanone, a commendatory abbot.
The historical and monastic library was built by Abbot Giacinto Boni in 1733. He was fond of sciences and literature. The books, divided into groups of topics, are placed in valuable walnut bookcases dating back to the 19th century. It was deprived of its books twice, in 1811 and in 1816, due to Napoleon’s suppression. In 1933 it could regain all of its possessions.
In modern times it includes the oldest book heritage of Fonte Avellana, which consists of about 25,000 books, all of which were printed starting from the discovery of printing ( the oldest incunabulum dates back to 1470) until the end of the 19th century. These books are prevailingly incunabula, about 1,000 16th century books mainly about theology, human sciences and Early Chistian philosophy.
The oldest section of the library is not only a place where old books are preserved but also offers a venue for meetings and promotes culture.
The modern library is housed in a 11th century room which was originally used as a guest house. It’s named after Dante Alighieri and it was first opened to the public in 1965, on the occasion of the seventh centenary of the birth of the poet, as in the 21st Canto of the Paradise in the Divine Comedy, dialoguing with Saint Pier Damiani, he describes Fonte Avellana. Allegedly the poet stayed here around 1318, when he was exiled in nearby Gubbio.
It consists of about 7,000 books mainly about theology, literature, philosophy, history and Early Christian philosophy.