We just spent some days in Rome for the CAMPO launch of Interior Tales: to celebrate our Roman week, here are a few juicy details from a map by Antonio Tempesta (1555-1630) published by printmaker Giovanni Domenico de Rossi in 1645. These are all details from sheet 4 of the portfolio. Above you can see the Colosseum right at the edge of the inhabited city centre, with Saint Clemente in an almost rural condition behind it.
North of the Colosseum (or left in the case of this map, which is a perspective from the Tiber's Vatican bank) is the church of San Pietro in Vincoli, today embedded in dense built tissue on top of the Oppio Hill.
The Capitoline Hill or Campidoglio is traditionally said to have been redesigned by Michelangelo in the 1530s and 1540s. Something quite weird is going on in this representation, however. On the left, the Palazzo Nuovo (barely a 1-bay affair with a façade to close the square) looks exactly like it does today, and yet books tell us it was supposedly completed only in the early 1660s by Carlo Rainaldi. We cannot see the Palazzo dei Conservatori on the right, but it does look finished, which matches all we know (it is the one piece probably built during Michelangelo's lifetime). But the central Palazzo Senatorio, built on the ruins of the Tabularium, still sports here a rudimentary, unfinished façade, while we know that Giacomo della Porta (who hailed from Lake Lugano like us) completed it in 1605. So...
Anyone able to solve the mystery of this anachronism? By the way, the paving with the large oval pattern was indeed designed by Michelangelo but apparently only realized in the 1900s. Curiouser and curiouser.
The most likely explanation seems to be that the Campidoglio had always been a major propaganda affair. In fact, no actual drawing by Michelangelo has survived, and there is no proof he even really conceived the scheme. The earliest and most famous extant representation (see below) is an engraving by Etienne Duperac dated 1567-69; this engraving has been widely used as advertisement for the papal renovation of what had once been the centre of Rome's civic power. So it seems likely that Tempesta copied Duperac rather than the real thing - even if this still doesn't explain why the Palazzo Senatorio remains in its unfinished state.
Why didn't Tempesta copy the main facade as well? Mystery.
Here's the main square of the Ghetto, 'Platea Iudea' o Piazza Giudea; on the right you can see the wall that divided the Ghetto from the rest of the city, cutting what is today the Piazza delle Cinque Scole (Square of the Four Synagogues) in two parts, the Piazza Giudea inside the precinct, the Piazza dei Cenci outside. Below you can see the sheet in its entirety. The whole portfolio is a real beauty, stay tuned as we'll upload the other folios in the next weeks.