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Capsa Ars Scriptoria

My name is Enrico Chigioni and I am the owner of Capsa Ars Scriptoria, a young publishing house founded following a fortuitous encounter with an ancient medieval manuscript held in Cividale del Friuli at the Archives and Library, located near the Cristiano Museum where the Altare di Ratchis is displayed. Here is my story. cividale friuli I spent the first 10 years of my working life as a warehouse worker at an important Italian publishing house. The following five years I spent as an operator in a metal-working company, while the last twenty-nine years I have spent as an artisanal carpenter, designing furniture for indoor furnishings and for shops and bars. The passion for books, history, art, culture in general and all that is “beauty” was handed down to me from my uncle Luigi, with whom I had the opportunity to visit numerous exhibitions dedicated to illuminated manuscripts.

These fantastic time machines fascinated me to the point that I started buying facsimiles. In this way I created an interesting collection that included certain facsimiles of Reichenau illuminated manuscripts (my favourites) which were the reason behind my first journey to Cividale del Friuli on the 7th of April 2006.

fonte-battesimale di callisto

On that date I was invited by Mr Claudio Barberi (curator of the exhibition) to the inauguration of the particularly significant exhibition, titled “La miniatura di Reichenau” (The illumination of Reichenau).

While I was waiting for the inauguration, I visited the Archeological Museum, the Lombard Temple, the Celtic Hypogeum, the Historical Centre, the Devil’s Bridge with the Natisone river and more and, I don’t know why, but I had the clear-cut and pleasant feeling of having dived right into the past! Lastly I visited the Cathedral and it was then that something truly exciting happened. In the middle of the right nave on the perimeter wall, there was an opening with a sign that indicated the entrance to the “Treasure of the Cathedral”, now the Cristiano Museum. I had not yet crossed the threshold when, to my left, I saw a fantastic marble monument, the Baptistery of Callisto but, as soon as I was past the entryway, my gaze was drawn in like a magnet by a large parallelepiped stone on the ground, with a glass screen surrounding it, the “ALTAR OF RATCHIS”.At that point the desire to get involved in making an exact, small-scale copy of that magnificent and unique Lombard masterpiece that had survived until now since the eighth century was manifested inside of me, so that I could have it within reach any time I felt the need to see it, touch it and admire it.

Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Cividale del Friuli

It was thanks to the skills I acquired during my time as a carpenter, along with tireless research (which lasted several years) and my stubbornness for seeking quality and precision in the finished work, that several years later I was able to materialise the initial idea. Three years later, in 2009, another pillar of this project was unexpectedly added.

Anello sigillo di trezzo d'adda viii secolo milano

I was at the rectory with the then pastor Monsignor Guido Genero who was regaling me with an interesting conversation on illuminated manuscripts. At a certain point he began to talk about an ancient and highly important Lombard codex which was stored until the 19th century at the former Cathedral Chapter and now stored at the Archives and Library of the Archaeological Museum. “L’HISTORIA LANGOBARDORUM” written by Paolus Diaconus.

Tesori archeologici sotto la brebemi

This was the second exciting surprise that drove me to establish the publishing house CAPSA Ars Scriptoria in 2012 and from then to work on the project in a more structured way, which I have titled “Lo scrigno del tempo, i Longobardi” (“The treasure chest of time, the Lombards”).


Enrico Chigioni, CAPSA Ars Scriptoria



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