Detail map of Roma, Lazio, Italy,Venezia, Veneto, Italy Overview map of Roma, Lazio, Italy,Venezia, Veneto, Italy

A: Roma, Lazio, Italy, B: Venezia, Veneto, Italy

"La edifichation de molti pallazi & tempii & altri gradissimi edificii de roma", an Early Printed Guidebook to Rome, Known from a Single Surviving Copy


An early printed guidebook to Rome, known for a single surviving copy preserved in the British Library, was issued in Venice in 1480. Its unnamed printer was later identified by bibliographers as Antonio di Alessandria della Paglia et Socii. The anonymous pamphlet, which consists of 12 unnumbered leaves, has no separate title. It's title begins the text: La edifichation de molti pallazi & tempii & altri gradissimi edificii de roma.

"Presumably, the author is a clergyman who was close to the margrave of Ancona, Giovanni Visconti da Ollegio (1304 ca. - 1366). According to the author himself he compiled the guide for a visit of the margrave's wife Antonia degli Benzoni to Rome in 1363. According to Ludwig Schudt [Le guide di Roma: Materialien zu einer Geschichte der römischen Topographie (1930)] it is a compilation of three works: The author translated and revised the Graphia auerae urbis Romae, the basic Mirabilia Romae and the Descriptio plenaria.

"However, the treatise is characterised by a strong personal touch. The author appears as first-person narrator and accompanies the reader on an imaginary trip through ancient Rome. The individuality of the account is provided by the sometimes ocurring emotional views on historical incidents, monuments, persons and deities as well as on quotations by Latin authors.

"In some passages the author adopts the systematic cataloguing of monuments from his sources. Individual inaccuracies concerning descriptions of monuments and quotations from the sources of classical and medieval authors can however be observed. Fiction and reality are closely linked here" (, accessed 11-30-2014).

ISTC No. ir00305200. A facsimile reproduction of the 1480 printed text is available in Five Early Guides to Rome and Florence with an Introduction by Peter Murray (1972).

Interestingly from the history of collecting standpoint, Pierre Charles Deschamps & Pierre Gustave Brunet were aware of the title, publishing a note about it in Vol.1 of their Supplement to Jean-Ch. Brunet's Manuel du Libraire (1878). Their entry, which appears on column 438 refers to copy catalogued by M. Tross in 1874 for 200 fr. Possibly this is the copy in the British Library.

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