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Article Review: Ancient books in northern Italy frozen to salvage them from flood damage

In response to devastating floods in northern Italy's Emilia-Romagna region, ancient books and manuscripts, some dating back to the 16th century, are undergoing an innovative preservation effort. Affected by the floods, these precious documents are being transported to Cesena, where industrial-sized freezers provided by Orogel, a frozen food company, await. The freezing process, typically used for ripe produce, is now being employed to rid the books of excess water and prevent further damage before the restoration process begins.



Angela Giuffrida's article sheds light on a remarkable initiative to safeguard Italy's literary heritage in the face of natural disasters. The collaboration between volunteers, local authorities, and Orogel demonstrates a commendable blend of creativity and community spirit. The urgency to freeze the books quickly showcases the resourcefulness required in the preservation of cultural treasures.



The article effectively captures the significance of this preservation effort, emphasizing the challenges posed by extreme weather events in a country susceptible to the climate crisis. The involvement of the carabinieri and the commitment of Orogel's president, Bruno Piraccini, highlight the collaborative response needed to protect our shared cultural heritage.



The impact of the floods on Italy's cultural heritage, with 75 monuments, 12 libraries, and six archaeological sites affected, underscores the broader consequences of climate-related disasters. The commitment of the Italian government, evidenced by the allocation of €6m in funding for heritage preservation, demonstrates a proactive approach to mitigate the damage.



As a bookbinder and restorer, I find this story both sobering and inspiring. It reinforces the importance of adaptability and innovation in the face of unforeseen challenges. The use of freezing as a preservation method, though unconventional, showcases the resilience of those dedicated to protecting our literary treasures. In the end, this article is a poignant reminder of the fragility of our cultural heritage and the determined efforts made to ensure its survival.

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