Guides from the 1500s Shed Light on Renaissance Travel
Two travel guides from the 1500s held Marsh’s Library in Dublin offer a glimpse into Renaissance era travel to Italy. The library, which is a veritable treasure trove of rare books and specimens from across the ages, holds one book on Rome and one on Florence which were owned by Kenelm Digby. The library recently gave history lovers a peek into the books on their Facebook page.
Digby was a English diplomat who lived during the early 1600s. According to the library he also spent his time as a scientist, spy, courtier, and pirate.
The library pointed out that the many illustrations in the “Rough Guide to Rome”, published in 1569, may have been of use to Digby:
This travel book, with Kenelm Digby’s signature of ownership on the title-page, has many charming pictures and may have been of use to him when he visited the city during the 1650s on a diplomatic mission from Oliver Cromwell.
Digby’s name can be seen on either side of the photo on the inside cover of the book:
The book contains a series of helpful images for the discerning traveler, as well as descriptions of the city and tips, much like modern day versions:
A second book, “Rough Guide to Florence”, is also a part of the library collection. Digby also owned this book, which was published in 1591. Unfortunately, it does not have the same level of illustration:
Archbishop Marsh’s Library, which opened in 1701, is the oldest public library in Ireland and is still housed in its original building.