Dante – an early manuscript from Biblioteca Guarneriana, Italy

At the risk of disappearing down a rabbit hole (which I’ve always liked the idea of…) I’ve come across an amazing late 14th century manuscript of Dante’s Divine Comedy, beautifully photographed and available on line. It is just incredible.

Here are a few pictures, it goes well with my short and very general introduction to Dante. Remember this parchment (pergamon) was hand-written that’s what manu-script means – literally written by hand. It was also illuminated (illustrated by hand). Quite incredible. I am featuring four pictures here. Dante himself at work at his desk, nestled in a large letter N. His flowing gown and hat clearly typical of Dantesque clothing. Then a painting of Virgil (Dante’s guide) leading him through a landscape similar in style to a Giotto fresco. Then finally into the ‘inferno’ hell in other words. Where souls are tortured, dismembered and thrown into burning flames as punishment for their behaviour on Earth. Lastly Cerberus, the three headed wolf-dog who guards the entry to the underworld. In the case of Dante – Cerberus guards the ‘Third Circle of Hell’. Virgil and Dante can only get past him by throwing earth into each of his three mouths. This superb manuscript is available on line and has been lovingly digitised, making it accessible to all of us. Civica Biblioteca Guarneriana and Biblioteca guarneriana – what an amazing treasure trove and what a superlative job of making these unique and priceless manuscripts available to all.

Here are my favourite illustrations from this extraordinary work:

Dante writes at his desk, wearing the flowing gown and soft pointed cap with which he became associated.
Dante and Virgil make their way through a beautiful landscape (c. 14th century)
Dante and Virgil pause to view the tortured souls in the inferno.
Cerberus – guardian of the underworld, guards the third circle of hell in Dante’s Inferno.


  • I write extensively about Italy, The Alps and British Isles. I recently wrote a very brief piece about Dante which may be of interest: Dante – Italy’s Greatest Poet: https://wp.me/p5eFNn-53F 
  • I’ve also written about numerous libraries – for me a library is a ‘Sanatorium for the Mind’
  • www.educated-traveller.com/2018/06/30/sanatorium-for-the-mind-a-library/
  • Complimenti to those dedicated individuals responsible for this truly exceptional work.
  • The minute I’m back in Italy I’ll be visiting San Daniele in Friuli, not only to sample the amazing prosciutto but also to visit this exceptional library.
  • You can support and like Biblioteca Guarneriana by following them on FB at Civica Biblioteca Guarneriana and Biblioteca guarneriana 
  • If you’d like to disappear down the same rabbit hole – the web site is: www.teca.guarneriana.it
  • After all falling down rabbit holes has got some pretty interesting precedents!!

Thoughts from London: 23rd April, 2020

4 thoughts on “Dante – an early manuscript from Biblioteca Guarneriana, Italy

  1. For once, I might be able to tell YOU something of interest about rabbit holes!

    Much too long to include in the “comment” Section on your Blog – so it will have to be a phone call, I’m delighted to say.

    When are you taking calls, today?




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