Violent flooding that has hit northeastern Italy in recent days has raised concerns that ancient books and manuscripts, some dating back to the 16th century, may have been affected by the water. According to The Guardian newspaper, the documents are being frozen in a rescue attempt.
Submerged in water and mud from libraries in the most affected areas of the Emilia-Romagna region, the items are now being rescued and transferred by volunteers to Cesena, where they will be placed inside industrial freezers, in shelves at temperatures of -25°C.
“Normally, we use this process for fruits and vegetables that ripen within three hours of harvesting, but I never thought that this fast procedure could also be useful for our literary heritage,” said the president of the Orogel company, Bruno Piraccini, quoted in The Guardian. . “I received this amazing request from the Forlì library and we are happy to rearrange the space in our warehouse,” he said.
The purpose of freezing the books is remove excess water, to avoid further damage, dry afterwards and, if possible, restore. For the process to work, it is important that the books are frozen as quickly as possible.
In addition to the literary heritage, the floods also affected 75 monuments, 12 libraries and six archaeological sites. According to Lucia Borgonzoni, undersecretary of the Italian Ministry of Culture, the government has reserved 6 million euros for the restoration of this heritage.
Some 30,000 people were displaced and 14 died as a result of the violent storms that hit the country. This Thursday, the Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, visited the most affected areas by helicopter. “I am here to send a very clear message: Europe is with you,” von der Leyen said.
Through the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism, Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, France, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia provided equipment to Italy to help clean up and control landslides in the Emilia-Romagna region.