To make a complete database containing all medieval Franco-Italian literature texts available to all. This was the first objective of project RIALFrI (Digital Repertory of Medieval Franco-Italian Literature), which makes these works, written in Northern Italy between the thirteenth- and fifteenth-century, in a language deriving from a combining of French and Italian dialects, available online. The Veneto has played an important role in the creation of this literature, which boasts a number of absolute masterpieces like L’Entrée d’Espagne, to the extent that this literature has traditionally been labeled “Franco-Venetian literature.”
The database is available users online thanks to the establishment of this site, which collects, in addition to texts, a complete bibliography of the field, reproductions of manuscripts and early books, introductory notes to individual texts, philological apparatuses, and linguistic analyses.
Each text is available for consultation thanks to a search engine developed by Luigi Tessarolo. The available material allows scholars to conduct in-depth linguistic and lexicological studies, and in certain cases it may settle controversial issues that are still under debate and unresolved.
The long term goal of the RIALFrI project is the creation of a Franco-Italian Dictionary, the DiFrI, which will model itself on the TLIO (Treasury of Italian Language Origins), the DMF (Middle French Dictionary) and the DÉAF (DÉAF. Electronic Etymological Dictionary of Old French (GHIJKL)).
The project is open to the active collaboration of the international scientific community.
RIALFrI is a project directed by Francesca Gambino as part of the activities of the Department of Linguistic and Literary Studies at the University of Padua. The working group includes Professors Furio Brugnolo, Gianfelice Peron, Lorenzo Renzi, and researchers Floriana Ceresato, Rachele Fassanelli, Marta Materni, Serena Modena. The creator of the Mediapress environment is Mirko Visentin, and the creator of the search engine is Luigi Tessarolo.
In Italy, Carlo Beretta of the Università degli Studi della Basilicata and Andrea Beretta of the Opera del Vocabolario Italiano have joined the project, while at the international level a number of established Franco-Italian scholars have confirmed their willingness to collaborate: Leslie Zarker Morgan, Emerita Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures (Italian and French) at Loyola University in Maryland and editor of the 2009 edition of the Geste francor; Laura Morreale, independent researcher and editor of the French of Italy website; Professor Günter Holtus of the University of Göttingen, co-author with Peter Wunderli of the most extensive monograph to date on the subject (Les épopées romanes. Franco-italien et épopée franco-italienne, Heidelberg, Winter, 2005); and Anna Constantinidis of the University of Namur, who is editing the Franco-Italian version of the Chanson d’Aspremont as part of the project coordinated by Giovanni Palumbo and destined to join this work.
RIALFrI began with the “Progetto strategico di Ateneo” [Strategic Plan for the Academic Center], “Medioevo veneto e medioevo europeo. Identità e alterità” [Veneto and European Middle Ages: Identity and Alterity] (STPD08XMXP) at the University of Padua.
Se bene bisogna procedere alle cose pesatamente, non si vuole però proporsi nelle faccende tanta difficultá che l’uomo, pensando non possino riuscire, si fermi; anzi, bisogna ricordarsi che nel maneggiare si scuopre piú facilitá, e che faccendo, le difficultá per sé medesime si sgruppano. E questo è verissimo, e chi negocia lo vede tuttodí in fatto; e se papa Clemente se ne ricordassi, conducerebbe spesso le cose sue e piú in tempo con piú riputazione.
Francesco Guicciardini, Ricordi, C 194.
You should, of course, proceed cautiously in all matters. But you must not conjure up so many difficulties that you come to consider a job impossible and stop working at it. Indeed, you must remember that it is only by working at things that they become easy: and in the process of working, difficulties disappear of their own accord. This is very true, and men who have business to transact will witness it, in fact, every day. And if Pope Clement would remember it, he might often conduct his affairs more rapidly and more honorably.
Guicciardini, Maxims and Reflections (Ricordi), trans. Mario Domandi, introduction by Nicolai Rubinstein, Philadelphia: U. of Pennsylvania Press, 1965; 4th printing, 1972, p. 90.
The University of Padua has a long tradition in the field of Franco-Italian or Franco-Veneto studies. Among the most influential works of Paduan professors who have focused on this literature we include the historico-literary research of Alberto Limentani (L’Entrée d’Espagne e i signori d’Italia, Padova, Antenore, 1992; Martin da Canal, Les estoires de Venise, ed. A. Limentani, Florence, Olschki, 1972-1973), the pioneering linguistic studies of Giovan Battista Pellegrini and of Lorenzo Renzi (among the numerous contributions of the former are “Franco-veneto e veneto antico,” in Filologia romanza III 1956, pp. 122-40; and of the latter, “Il francese come lingua letteraria e il franco-lombardo. L’epica carolingia nel Veneto,” in Storia della cultura veneta. Vol. 1. Vicenza, Neri Pozzi, 1976, pp. 563-89). There is, furthermore, the philological research of Gianfelice Peron (“Il frammento di Treviso del Roman d’Alexandre,” in Roberto Benedetti, Le roman d’Alexandre. Riproduzione del manoscritto Venezia, Biblioteca Museo Correr, Correr 1493, Tricesimo, Vattori, 1998, pp. 89-94).
In the domain of philological information technology, RIALFrI is a dynamic digital library: the texts it contains appear as new editions which can be reviewed by editors or collaborators, thus providing a record indicating any modifications made with respect to existing published editions; older editions will be subject to revision to identify and correct errors, to update bibliographies, and to indicate alternative analytical solutions. Some texts are provided in two or more editions in order to avoid the “internet effect,” or the tendency to cite the texts most readily available online, usually offered in a single out-of-copyright edition.*
So conceived, this dynamic digital library does not replace nor oppose the printed edition; rather, it offers a complementary relationship with it. The database can thus anticipate the publication of printed editions (for it addresses all aspects of publishing, including legal), as with the vernacular translation of the Consolatio edited by Gianfelice Peron; having no spatial limitations, it can present more information than is possible in a printed book; and for extant printed editions, it offers editors the ability to update and correct their work as necessary, or to respond to questions and objections raised since its publication.
*See Michelangelo Zaccarello, “La letteratura italiana nel contesto della svolta digitale: serve più ‘teoria dell’edizione’?” Ecdotica, vol. 14, 2017, pp. 148-62 (p. 153): “i testi più accessibili sono quelli di peggiore qualità” [“the most accessible texts are those of worst quality”].
NB: When a text is not visible in its entirety, it means that it could not be published due to copyright issues. It remains, however, searchable by the search engine and is searchable for small portions of text.
For the new RIALFri logo we sought to avoid facile, mannerist references to the Medieval world in order to highlight the born-digital nature of the project initially tied to the digitalization of printed texts. From that arose the idea of graphically evoking the first experiments in optical character recognition (from the end of the ’70’s), contemporary with the definitive and unavoidable transition from typewriter to PC (the first Apple PC dates to 1976). We thus fixed on displaying the acronym RIALFrI in a monospaced typeface (Adobe Courier) similar to those created for optical character recognition in postal contexts. To this we added horizontal lines at the beginning of the logo that recall both the matrix display typical of the first PCs and the pages of a book seen from an edge. Finally, a red rubric highlights the part of the acronym illustrating the linguistic and content-related portion of the project, Franco-Italian.
by Mirko Visentin
Francesca Gambino. Last updated: September 27, 2022
English translation by Rachel D. Gibson and Leslie Zarker Morgan