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Hidden in Como

A sip of coffee on the 7:25 train to the Italian countryside- sounds like every American’s dream vacation. I had the extreme pleasure of having this “dream” on my way to visit the Fondazione Antonio Ratti (FAR), which resided on the coast of Lake Como. In this picturesque walk from the train station, I was excited to see what exactly brought me to this villa in the middle of Italy. FAR was started in 1985 by its namesake, Antonio Ratti, in an effort to promote research and experimentation in culture and the arts. The foundation's initial archive began with Ratti's personal collection of textiles and library. During our visit, we learned that "textiles were sort of their own archive of cultures," an intriguing concept that added depth to our exploration of their collection.

Archivorum was invited to see the foundation’s database and some of the collection. We started off with seeing the historical library, containing the personal collections of books from Ratti. One of my favorite pieces was a text dating back to the 15th century, and while in Latin, I was still able to read some of it. I felt incredibly lucky to be able to hold such an old text in my hands. The library's collection highlighted the importance of preserving historical documents for future generations to study and appreciate. After our visit to the library, we had a presentation about the foundation’s database, which gave us insight into how to format our database for our artist-based archival projects. What impressed me the most was how user-friendly their system was- being able to have a researcher make their own collection list, provide HD images of all the pieces, and provide contextual descriptions of each item. With this knowledge, I know my visit to Como and the FAR will help me build the basis of my archival project.

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