Rimini Biblioteca Civica Gambalunga
About Biblioteca Civica Gambalunga
Rimini’s Civic Library is housed in this palazzo built by Alessandro Gambalunga between 1610-1614 and that had almost certainly been designed by his relative Giovanni Laurentini Arigoni.1 The ornamental detail and general plan throughout owe much to the classical architecture inspired by Sebastiano Serlio at that time.
The ground floor of this palazzo would have been used as stables, workshops, storerooms and coach-houses. The top floor was used for storing grain, accommodation for servants and a small workshop for the binding of books, of which Gambalunga was a diligent collector.2
Under the porticoes are several marble plaques on the walls. They are dedicated by Rimini’s inhabitants to some of their distinguished fellow citizens.
In the middle of this fine courtyard is an 18th century well in Istrian limestone. The well however, was only placed here in 1928.
Up on the first floor here is the Biblioteca Civica. This space was last home to Alessandro and his wife Raffaella Diotallevi and previously furnished with rich decorative details including tapestries, brocade and paintings. Meetings were also held here by scholars and writers.
This is a painting of Alessandro Gambalunga.
This next one depicts his coat of arms and dates to the 17th century.
Upon Alessandro’s death the library was temporarily transferred nearby while restoration work took place. When it was relocated once again here in the 1970’s new multimedia services were introduced, a film library and a children’s library.
The following rooms though are nothing short of exquisite and really show why this is a highly respected book collection on top of which it’s reputedly Italy’s first civil library.
This first room was constructed in 1756 by Bernardino Brunelli and features two celestial globes by Blaeu created in Amsterdam in 1622 and 1640. The bronze statue on the top shelf also dates to the 1600’s and represents an exemplary model of the planets with moving parts.
The following three rooms date to the 17th century and display stark walnut shelves with many volumes here depicting Gambalunga’s coat of arms stamped in gold. Many books here and the odd exhibit such as the large reading stall from the 1600’s and typical in ancient convents are in fact from religious institutions that were dispersed between 1796-1797 due to Napoleon’s edicts that sought to suppress them.
Alessandro’s friend and protégé Michele Moretti was the first librarian to keep his prized collection organized for future generations. Besides satisfying the interests of a cultured and intellectually curious man there are law books, Greek and Latin classics, traveler’s journals, poetry, technical and scientific manuals, astronomy and medicine books.3
One other character to have greatly influenced the historical importance of the library was Cardinal Giuseppe Garampi. It was thanks to his direct intervention that the library became highly regarded in Rimini as well as nationally. He also bequeathed a number of precious relics, a collection of 86 codices, apographs and cards.
Another two who were instrumental included Luigi and Carlo Tonini. Between them they are considered to have enriched the Gambalunga Library with a substantial collection of monastic books, manuscripts, parchments and scholastic papers.
Most surprisingly here in the corner is a secret doorway leading up to the top floor or down stairs. It’s a historic reminder that this palazzo is indeed a valuable relic from one of Rimini’s most distinguished characters.
1 Meldini, Piero. La Biblioteca Civica Gambalunga. L’Edificio, la storia, le raccolte, Rimini 2000, p15.
2 As above, p20.
3 As above, p27.