Architect and surveyor of Pianta Grande di Roma, the first modern city map, 1748. “Despite praise heaped on the work by everyone from the pope on down, it was not a financial success. … After two years, most engraved copies were still unsold.”
Remember when we two young architects
recorded a street with a dozen crooked houses?
I draw all Rome now, every way-out quarter,
the Pope himself signed me a pass, I measure
everything — yes, even cloistered convents.
Rolling and clanking my iron chain, I slice
at space, cut ground and figure, figure and ground.
The riverbanks and cypresses, you’ll know,
the plan is new, stretched flat on twelve wide sheets.
“Lacks charm,” a colleague carps, blind to the grid
as science. “No taste, no style,” a rival sneers.
“Buy it,” the barefoot friars beg their abbots.
They swear the saints themselves guide my bussola!
No one has ever drawn a map like mine,
or understood its mathematic power,
or counted up its thousand uses — taxing,
policing, buying, selling, spying, wooing —
that’s not to mention ordinary viewing.
You build, my friend, you know our art is urban.
Just four zecchini. No? I wager you —
some day we’ll all own city maps in Rome.
So please, be one of the first, put down your cash!