The books of Borgo Pignano

(A post mostly for bibliophiles)

Last Christmas we opened our present from our daughters to find this. DSCN7549On the back it explained that this was a long weekend (half-board) in Borgo Pignano in Tuscany. I am not about to post my 130 odd photos or describe our holiday, except to say that it was an uplifting experience. The ethos of owners of this beautiful 12th and 18th century cluster of buildings was of local, sustainable, organic living. We were happy, extremely well-fed (garden to table) guests, in the most stunning, spacious and peaceful of surroundings.

Among all the delights the one that enchanted me almost to delirium was the library. Never have I encountered such an eclectic mix of good books in such a wide selection of languages (original and translated) in my life before. I suspect it is unique.DSCN7373 DSCN7533

For tasters, here is a selection from just one shelf: Conosci L’Italia, il FolkloreQuarterly Review of Archaeology (1959), 4 vols; La Institución de Eserianza y su Ambiente, Antonio Jiménez; Manuale Storico della Letteratura Romana, Ranconi, Posani, Tandoi; Doppelspiel Mit Dame, Irving Wallace; Das Boot ist Voll…, Alfred A. Häsler; Kinder Brauchen Märchen, Bruno Bettelheim; The Fall of the Spanish American Empire, Salvador de Madriaga (many copies of this and other works by the same author in several languages); La Voce Che Ricorda, Ama Adhe (preface by the Dalai Lama); Ottjen Alldag, Georg Droste; Tschaikowsky, Alexander Andreavsky (in German); Secret de Centenaires, Jean Pelissier (Chinese medicine); Be a Goddess, Francesca de Grandis (Celtic spells); La Dottrina Celeste,  Emanuel Swedenborg; Mahā, Mudra (Mediation, French); The Twilight of Machines, John Zerzara; Spuren, Eric Ambler (German); Sesso, Antonella Biagioni; Fe Sin Blasfemia, Salvator de Madriaga; A Step by Step Guide to Drawing the Human Figure, John Raynes; Holbein’s Drawings at Windsor Castle, K. T. Parker; Shakespeare and the Emblem Writers, Henry Green. (Well, well, that really fixed spellcheck, it gave up completely.)DSCN7524I found little gems, such as a dual language school version of Coleridge’s, The Ancient Mariner. The text includes little resumés of the action written thus: ‘An Ancient Mariner meeteth three Gallants, bidden to a wedding-feast, and detaineth one.’DSCN7424_2 DSCN7425  Another cover that caught my fancy was Hawking’s Big Bang in Italian. DSCN7525

Then there was a music book of laments from the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland.DSCN7532

I have never known such browsing delight, but I’d better stop. Well, maybe the view from our bedroom window first thing in the morning.  DSCN7383


35 thoughts on “The books of Borgo Pignano

    • It was bliss. I think it is simply the gentle accumulation of years of owners’ and visitors’ tastes. The archives of the estate accounts, going back to around 1820, are there as well.

  1. One wonders how the owners managed to build up the collections. Perhaps many generations of the same family. Of course it is always a pleasure to see rooms filled with books. The view from the window, how glorious. Garden to table as well!

  2. Living out of a suitcase for so long I miss only 2 things really – my books and my cameras. How do people live without books? A good library is a treasure. Lucky you.

  3. Oh, what a sheer delight! Thank you for sharing it with us. There is something almost primal which awakens in me at the sight of a beautifully stocked library. Not to mention Italian food!

  4. Oh how lovely! I love Tuscany from just two brief visits I want to go back time and time again.
    I felt like this whenever I visited my first singing teachers music room, it was always full of musical scores. I used to buy old scores from festivals, many lovely old sheets and books from 10p to 50p I love them.
    It’s not long now until my first summer school in Trentino can’t wait. It seems like ages since the audition but at the same time it’s come around so fast. Sadly though I think I’ve missed out performing in ‘The Cunning Little Vixen’ at the BYO in London because I’m back a week too late :(. I tried to convince them I could catch up 😜.

    • As well as the library there was a music room with a beautiful grand piano free for anyone to play. On our last night some young Dutch people were playing as we sat reading in the library below… it was perfect.
      Ouch, I’m so sorry you are missing out on the Cunning Little Vixen. Though I don’t imagine you would want to miss out on the Trentino Summer School either. Will you still get some time with the BYO? I guess it is going to be like this from now on, and it can be maddening, like buses, nothing for weeks, then two or three offers all for the same dates.

      • Oh I love grand pianos it frustrates me that I just don’t play better, in my head I can :).
        I couldn’t make the BYO workshop either :(,

        I agree it’s so difficult sometimes when people ask me to reserve a date for them and something else pops up.

      • It’s a tough, tough profession you have chosen. On the whole though, taking what comes is a better option than waiting for a better offer – which might not come after all.

    • There are probably some special books there, but most of them are simply the ones the family and visitors have contributed for over a hundred years. There is something for all tastes and in many languages.

  5. Pingback: Four-decker book sandwich | Green Writing Room

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