Praglia Abbey – Convento Praglia, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Praglia Abbey

Convento Praglia, Italy

In this nearly 1,000-year-old monastery, monks painstakingly restore old books. 

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During the Middle Ages, many monks manually copied ancient books so they could be passed on to future generations. The invention of the printing press made this work largely obsolete, but thousands of old books remained stored in monasteries.

You can find many of those volumes in the library of the Praglia Abbey, an almost 1,000-year-old monastery located among the Euganean Hills. Founded in 1080, the structure was largely restored or rebuilt multiple times, including in the 1800s, when the structure served as a barracks and storage depot. Once again home to a community of monks, as well as old books, a tour of the abbey passes Renaissance paintings and beautiful grounds. Like many monastic orders, the monks keep busy—outside of prayer, they engage in beekeeping, wine-making, and more, and many of their wares can be purchased at an on-site shop. 

The abbey’s most notable work, though, is in book restoration. Per the institution’s website, monks have repaired tens of thousands of books, manuscripts, and parchments, including many damaged by floods in Florence and Venice in 1966. 

Know Before You Go

The abbey offers guided tours and welcomes a limited number of guests for spiritual retreats.