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Pasta for Nightingales

A 17th-Century Handbook of Bird-Care and Folklore

Giovanni Pietro Olina

 144 pages

Beautifully produced, sensitively translated and full of fascinating nuggets, this is a truly exquisite book.

Museum Bookstore


Pasta for Nightingales cover

Pasta for Nightingales cover ©

Hardback, 190 x 150 mm, 100 colour illustrations
ISBN 978 1 909741 49 2

North American and German rights sold

Foreword by Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk.

A unique celebration of the beginnings of ornithology, designed to reflect the charm of the seventeenth-century original.

Cassiano dal Pozzo, now celebrated as one of the most important art patrons of the seventeenth century, commissioned a number of exquisite studies of birds as part of his famous ‘Paper Museum’. In 1622 the lawyer and ornithologist Giovanni Pietro Olina used these drawings, which are now kept in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle, as the basis for the illustrations in his Uccelliera.

Pasta for Nightingales combines Cassiano’s original artwork with selections from the first modern translation of Olina’s text. It includes such enchanting insights as the idea that robins suffered from dizziness and that the hoopoe overindulged in grapes until it became ‘dazed and half-drunk.’ However, it also includes much fascinating early natural history and ornithological observation – as well as the secret recipe for pasta to keep your nightingale happy and encourage it to sing.

An historic and delightful gift book, which is bound to appeal to every bird-lover.


Special Royal Collection online price. Every purchase helps us to care for and increase access to the Royal Collection.

Highlights from the publication

Vincenzo Leonardi (1590-c. 1648)

Great tit, Parus major, L. 1758

Vincenzo Leonardi (1590-c. 1648)

Common hoopoe, Upupa epops L.1758

Vincenzo Leonardi (1590-c. 1648)

Common quail, Coturnix coturnix (L .1758)

Vincenzo Leonardi (1590-c. 1648)

European robin, Erithacus rubecula (L. 1758)

Vincenzo Leonardi (1590-c. 1648)

Northern lapwing, Vanellus vanellus (L. 1758)

Vincenzo Leonardi (1590-c. 1648)

Green woodpecker, Picus viridis L. 1758

Vincenzo Leonardi (1590-c. 1648)

Common kingfisher, Alcedo atthis (L. 1758)

Vincenzo Leonardi (1590-c. 1648)

Common linnet, Linaria cannabina (L. 1758)