Since the exercise was first presented to us, I have achieved several tasks that indeed helped the construction of a kind of friendship between me and my book, but I must say that I also encountered a number of barriers that kept me far from saying that I am today befriended with it.
I first thought that the experience would lead to a much deeper understanding of the book that have been assigned to than what I actually achieved. The idea that we could understand a book without reading it did not especially surprise me and I felt like at the end I would be able to say that I know the book. But I believe that the distance in time that separates us and also of course the language barrier, were too great to overcome.
Le Sette Chiese Principali di Roma was written in the 16th century, which means first of all that the book was physically extremely old and I could truly feel the damage of time when handling it. During the contact part of the exercise I felt especially discomfortable turning the pages of the fragile object and I was more concerned about not causing any more damage than getting a feel of the book. This time distance also means that the writing was outdated, meaning that the font and characters used back then have evolved until nowadays and most of the words were therefore not recognised by the text recognition and as follows, not translated to english.
Being written in Italian, the text was mostly out of reach for me, I was able to understand a few isolated words and maybe vaguely a rare sentence. I was only lucky that Italian is quite close to my mother tongue, French. The fact that throughout the whole almost 400 pages of the book only one of them was illustrated also did not help at all. The highlight of this writing is surely the text, and I barely had access to it, which explains my distance from the friendship that I aimed to.
Nevertheless, this exercise still taught me some things about the book, mostly thanks to the task in which we had to find further editions. I could understand a little better the intention of the author as well as the context in which he wrote his work.
I found it also a very unique experience to be able to go to the Library Oechslin in Einsiedeln and have the opportunity to browse through these extremely old and rare books. And for this reason, I also regret not having a book in a language that I could understand or at least illustrations, which would have made the experience much more enjoyable.
Finally I find it extremely interesting that we are somewhat engaging with the books through digital means, it shows us once again the power of the tools that we have at disposition nowadays and it also broadens the range of sources used to get to know our books which makes it in the end a really complete experience.