Thursday, February 11, 2010

Going to the Library - Part II - Travel Guides

A right click on any of the images will expand them in a separate window.

When most of us plan a trip we'll consult a travel guide, a website or do a bit of surfing on the Internet. We like to know what's ahead of us - what is "worth the detour". And it was no different for early travelers to Italy or Rome. The collection at the Bibloteca Angelica contains books, maps and diaries giving tips to the visitor on a wide range of sights and subjects.

This small volume Itinerarium Puteolanensis was written and illustrated in 1240 as a guide for Frederick II when he went to visit the baths in Pozzuoli near Napoli. It extols the virtues of bathing and gives amble illustrations of the waters in the area and the benefits to be found in soaking in them.

Shortly after his death the friends of Alò Giovannoli pubished a series of 126 copper plate engravings he had made of antiquities around Rome. Though his sense of perspective and proportion is suspect he captures the ancient monuments as they were during his time (circa 1550-1618). This particular edition of the first of the three volumes of his Roma antica dates from 1661.

Above: The Arch of Titus which records the Sack of Jerusalem and still stands today - perhaps because it was incorporated into a building thus saving it from being pulled down.
Below: The Palatine Hill showing the rich gardens of the Farnese family - an effort is being made to restore them to some of their original splendor.

Above: The Arch of Constantine - which is still one of the major tourist attractions - is surrounded by smaller buildings and palazzo walls.
Below: The Mausoleum of Augustus had become a public garden; in our day it has almost the appearance of rubbish heap though plans are in the works to have it restored.

The problem with copperplate engraving is that as the plates are used the images become slightly blurred as is the case with this later edition. But it still gives a window into the Roma of the period and what would have been seen on the Grand Tour by tourists. An art historian friend was fascinated by engravings of many of the monuments she had read about but which had disappeared. We could hardly tear her away from the reading table.

11 febbraio - Nostra Signora di Lourdes


sageweb said...

This stuff is are the luckiest man alive!

David said...

I hope they take a hint from that last engraving and restore the Mausoleum beautiful.

Sling said...

Lokk how beautiful those are!
Makes me wonder at the hand that created them.


i'd never leave the place

Elizabeth said...

Totally delicious images! Lucky you!

mym said...

Thanks for the images of the Itinerarium! Glorious.