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The library "Carlo Danio” in Grumento Nova

by Domenico Florio


Amato Danio was born in Saponara in 1619 by a rich noble family and he was one of the most important legal practitioner of his time. He didn’t neglect the studies of local history, and welcomed in his private library almost all the young students of Saponara, to which he managed to infuse his enthusiasm and his passion for the memories of their village. His Italian translation of  Geography of Ancient Luciania by Strabo was preserved in 1837 in the Library of Saponara Capuchin Fathers Convent: this results from the list of existing books, realized by the will of Father Guardian Alfonso Maria from Montesano, list now saved in the State Archives of Potenza (section Suppressed Monasteries, vol. 30).

Danio also wrote Reflections on a treatise of Chinese ceremonies to Greek and Roman idolatry. It was defined by Muratori, by Giannone and by Giustiniano “ornament and glory of his time”.  On the deathbed, in 1705, he led to the grave with him the secret hope that the young nephew Carlo could follow his footsteps, as humanist and scholar.

Carlo Danio, son of Giuseppe and Violante Ceramelli, heir of the book heritage grown during the time, was nominated archpriest of the Collegiate Church in 1702, and he demonstrated a great love for remains of old Grumentum, so as to create a museum defined by him as “chamberlain treasure”, destination of the most famous scholars of that time: after his death the remains got lost, while the library had better luck. Danio, in fact, leaved it making a will to Capuchin Convent, built in 1555, with the obligation for the monks to allow the consultation to the public for two days a week, Thursdays and Sundays. These news are taken from a letter of the Provincial in that time, P. Silvestri from Tursi, who, on 16th November 1737 asked to the General Father the permission in due form to accept the books and allow the consultation also to the people strangers to the order. According to the Acts of Parliament 1820-1821 (file 24, State Archives, Naples), the library instead had to be open every day.

Rendered the convent unusable in a wing by the violent earthquake of 1857, the books heritage was rescued by Father Serafino from Lagonegro, which provided to move them into places escaped unharmed.

In 1871, for want of mayor Carlo Caputi, the books were placed in a room rent by the Council, and its care was entrusted to Lucio Roselli, who drew up an alphabetical list, from which resulted 1686 volumes, a mined codex and 52 parchments restored in 1987 by Region Basilicata. Two years later, the library was hosted into the City Hall, and Giacomo Racioppi, prominent historian from Moliterno, through the intercession of the erudite archpriest Francesco Paolo Caputi, at that time director of “Carlo Danio” library, prepared regulations that the Prefecture of Potenza passed on 28th October 1874.

Caputi is moreover the author of the important historical essay Tenuous contribute to the history of Grumentum and Saponara with relating news that tell about High Agry Valley and its villages, published in Naples at the typography Pesola in 1902, and also author of a booklet published in Potenza in 1882, in which he argued that the excellent library donated by Danio to Capuchin Friars for scholars of the native city was legally opened to the public on 18th June 1882.

The rooms of City Hall building that currently host the LibraryAfter the death of the erudite archpriest, happened in 1922, the library “Carlo Danio” was directed by the colonel Antonio Pricoli, born in Saponara of Grumento the 1st January 1865 and died the 21st December 1958. Graduated in veterinary surgery in 1888 and then medical doctor in 1900 at the University of Palermo, he was a man of great humanistic culture and he continued the magnificent Grumento’s tradition, which includes Roberto da Romana in twelfth century, Amato and Carlo Danio, Bonifazio Petrone called “Pecorone”, Francesco Saverio Roselli, Francesco Paolo Caputi. Pricolo dedicated many years to reorganize and catalogue according to the scheme already used, that is respecting the four sections (1. Legal; 2. Ecclesiastic; 3. Literary and historical; 4. Miscellaneous). The bookshelves still existing today were provided by the same colonel: “As long as I live- the venerable old man wrote to the illustrious professor Ramagli, native of Sarconi, author of numerous works about Grumento’s archaeology and frequent library visitor- I won’t stop to try the rescue of the library, the highest title of nobility in this city”.

Under the lead of colonel Pricoli, other people dedicated themselves to make an inventory of the books: the priest Domenico Latronico, Ettore Bove, that involved in restocking even the suns still children and the professor Antonio Maiorino, at that time deputy-mayor of the municipality led by La Rossa. Thanks to them, it was formed a committee for excavations at Grumentum in 1951.

In 1957 it was entrusted the professor Bartolomeo Lapadula with the task of drawing up regulations. Then many other Grumento’s people alternated each other at the direction of the library, commissioned from the various municipalities to manage the opening of the library ensuring to the scholars the use of books heritage. Nowadays the library is registered in the list of National Libraries by Ministry of Education, and still remains, as colonel Pricolo said, “the the highest title of nobility in today’s Grumento”.



Copyright text and pictures (where there aren’t other references) by Domenico Florio