Maps give order to human knowledge. Maps are trees that classify disciplines orderly in branches, library indexes that direct the mind to repositories of materials. In post-Reformation Europe, maps of Rome are different from any other city’s maps. They show the seat of Catholicism struggling to impose itself as a universal faith and conjure up the aura of what was once the world’s largest and most powerful empire. Maps of Rome connect the city’s history to the history of Western civilization. They spread all over the world through religious proselytism and trade routes, and cater to different needs, interests and uses. From the large birds’ eye views by Matthäus Greuter (1618) and G.B. Falda’s (1676), to G.B. Nolli’s ichnographic survey (1748), the representation of Papal Rome changes dramatically in little more than a century. These strong archetypes - masterpieces in their own right - share issues of materiality, dimensions, exactness, but they are extremely different in their conception as trees of knowledge and encyclopedias of Western history and civilization.
Mario Bevilacqua is Professor of History of Architecture in the Department of Architecture at the University of Florence, Italy, and the Director of the Centro di Studi sulla Cultura e l’Immagine di Roma. His areas of research focus on architectural and urban history in the Western world from the late Middle ages to the 19th century. Among his publications are: Giulianova. La costruzione di una ‘città ideale’ del Rinascimento. Teorie, committenti, cantieri (2002); Piranesi Taccuini di Modena (2008); I progetti per la facciata di Santa Maria del Fiore (1585-1645). Architettura a Firenze tra Rinascimento e Barocco (2015); L’immagine di Roma da Bufalini a Nolli. Un modello europeo (2018). He has edited Entre Florença e Rio. Auguste Grandjean de Montigny (1776-1850) e la riscoperta dell’architettura del Rinascimento toscano (2019) on the French architect trained in Rome and Florence and active in Brazil during the first half of the 19th century.