Palladio’s Rome – an early guidebook to Rome

Guidebooks and travel guides have been around for centuries. Our modern guidebooks usually feature brief sections on history that are littered with maps, photos, things to do, places to eat, places to visit and other more practical information. Palladio’s Rome is a forerunner to these modern travel guides.

Andrea Palladio (1508­–1580) was a famous architect of the Renaissance who worked primarly in and around Venice. In 1541 he moved to Rome to study the classical architecture, and in 1554 he published his work on the architecture and churches of Rome. Many of these buildings are still standing today. Palladio provides an insight into the many ancient and medieval buildings and constructions that Palladio was sure to encounter. While Palladio’s approach is mainly that of an architect, one cannot help but see in this work a desire of Palladio to communicate the beauty, grandeur and eternal greatness of Rome. While reading this treatise, you almost get the feeling that you have been propelled into the past and are seeing Rome not only through Palladio’s eyes but along side him as he explores the marvels of this great city.

This recent translation of the work and subsequent printing is by far one of the best. It’s a bit pricey (on Amazon it is $45.80), but in my opinion, worth the money. Any serious traveler or scholar would do well to read this before their next trip to Rome. With its abundance of maps and photos, you will learn a lot of the various churches and buildings of Rome as well as some history of the ancient city. An excellent resource!