The Italian Almanac

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Antique Book Fair

A three-day literary fest for antique book-lovers opening in Milan later this month will feature a handbook for churchmen involved in the Catholic Church`s infamous Inquisition tribunals. The March fair will also present the first edition of the Index Librorum Prohibitorium, the list of books banned by the Catholic Church. The Index of Prohibited Books was published in Venice in 1564, shortly after Pope Paul IV authorised the first such list of of banned books in 1557, while the handbook for Inquisitors on show - the Malleus Maleficatum - was printed in Cologne in 1494.

The Antique Book Fair, which runs in Milan`s Palazzo della Permanente, is the largest event of its kind in the world, with some fifty specialized exhibitors from Europe and the United States. Around 10,000 visitors attend the fair each March, which not only features some of the earliest books ever printed, but also focuses on special or unusual editions of more recent volumes. Among the other items on display is a prestigious Renaissance copy of ancient Roman architect Vitruvius` De Architectura, printed in Venice in 1511 by Giovanni Tacuino de Tridino. Visitors will also be able to admire a series of prints by Durer and Goya alongside drawings by film director Federico Fellini.

Organiser Marcello Dell`Utri told reporters at the presentation of the fair he was certain the global credit crunch would not affect sales. ``The problem is finding these books, not selling them``.