The Foundation has one of the richest and most complete collections of incunabula and illustrated books from the Italian Renaissance. Its 1,965 volumes (401 of which were printed in Venice) are an inestimable resource and an invaluable testimony of civilisation.
Most of the works once belonged to famous collectors such as Essling, d’Adda, Fairfax Murray and other important bibliophiles. Some, such as the Orazione dell’ Angelo Rafaello, are one of kind; others exist in only a few rare exemplars, such as the Antiquarie Prospetiche Romane, of which two copies are known.
The collection is conserved in a specially equipped room, alongside the Foundation’s rarest works (aptly know as the Treasury). It is complemented by a special section of the library containing over 2,000 related volumes and various reference works collected over time, the greater part of which comes from Tammaro De Marinis’ library.
The collection’s most valued work is the unsparing autograph manuscript of the second century of Miscellanea, the last unfinished work by Poliziano, a renowned humanist. Long thought to have been irreparably lost and known only through laments of scholars of the day, the prized codex re-surfaced in 1961 in Florence. It was acquired by Vittorio Cini and brought to the Foundation where it became the subject of arduous study under Vittore Branca.