Monday, December 31, 2012

A View from the Gianicolo 1

Becket, December 31, 2012

As Gianbattista Nolli was completing his legendary Pianta Grande di Roma, his collaborator, the Sicilian Giussepe Vasi was beginning his own survey of the city, Delle magnificenze di Roma antica e moderna, with 240 vedute of Rome depicting churches, palaces, streets, squares and a whole host of other spaces and structures.  Both Nolli and Vasi give a comprehensive view of the city, one through a synthetic drawing, the plan, and the other through hundreds, literally hundreds of views.

In 1765 Vasi tries his hand at a single view showing the whole city, his monumental Prospetto dell'Alma Citta di Roma visto del Monte Gianicolo.  The engraving is more than 8 1/2 feet long and gives a sweeping view of Rome framed by Saint Peter's dome to the left and the Fontana dell'Acqua Paola to the right.  Standing on the Monte Gianicolo on axis with the Palazzo Corsini, Vasi is looking almost straight east, reaching as far north as Caprarola and as far south as Castel Gandolfo (but if you want something more intimate, you can look for Giuseppe Vasi himself, at work--at the bottom, to the left of the coat of arms.)  Of course, you could happily spend a good afternoon (or more!) trying to identify the innumerable places and buildings depicted in Vasi's panorama.

By the way, the word panorama comes from pan "all" and horan "to see".  Interesting--isn't it?--"to see all," a definition that fits both Nolli's Pianta and Vasi's Prospetto.  But in such different ways... (to be continued.)

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