Rome in the footsteps of a 1750 traveller

Web Name: Rome in the footsteps of a 1750 traveller






description:A description of the monuments of Rome as they were seen by a Grand Tour traveller through the etchings of Giuseppe Vasi
Rome in the Footsteps of an XVIIIth Century TravellerAbout this WebsiteHomeAbout by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to (alternative e-mail address


Page revised in July 2021.

Wilhelm Tischbein - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in the Roman countryside, in the background Cecilia Metella's tomb and Aqua Claudia

Giuseppe Vasi published between 1747 and 1761 ten books of etchingson the monuments of Rome (Sulle Magnificenze di Roma Antica e Moderna). The plates were grouped by subject: churches,gates, bridges, palaces, villas, etc.. The books became a bestseller amongthe foreigners visiting Rome. Vasi then wrote a guide (Itinerario istruttivo per ritrovare con facilita tutte le magnificenze di Roma e di alcune citta', e castelli suburbani) for visiting Romein eight days and driven by the success of this guide he published in 1765the Grand View of Rome, which was accompanied by a Grand View of Campo Vaccino. In 1781 he completed hiswork with a Mapof Rome.

The View shows 390 points of interest grouped in the eight itinerariesof the guide:
Day 1From Ponte Molle (Milvio) to S.Croce in Gerusalemme
Day 2From PortaMaggiore to VillaBorghese
Day 3From Via del Babbuino to the S. Lorenzo fuori le Mura
Day 4From Via diRipetta to Palazzo Massimi
Day 5From S. Andrea della Valle to IsolaTiberina
Day 6Trastevere
Day 7From Ponte Sisto to PonteTrionfale
Day 8The Vatican
plus A Short and Delicious Digression in the Environs of Rome: From Ponte Salario to Porto

Sketch of the eight itineraries

I furnished myself with maps and plans of antient and modern Rome, together with the little manual, called, Itinerario istruttivo per ritrovare con facilita tutte le magnificenze di Roma e di alcune citta', e castelli suburbani. But I found still more satisfaction in perusing the books, intitled, Roma antica, e moderna, which contain a description of everything remarkable in and about the city, illustrated with a great number of copper-plates, and many curious historical annotations.
Tobias Smollett - Travels through France and Italy - 1766.
November 7, 1786. I have now been here seven days, and by degrees have formed in my mind a general idea of the city. We go diligently backwards and forwards. While I am thus making myself acquainted with the plan of old and new Rome, viewing the ruins and the buildings, visiting this and that villa, the grandest and most remarkable objects are slowly and leisurely contemplated. I do but keep my eyes open and see, and then go and come again, for it is only in Rome one can duly prepare oneself for Rome.
J. W. Goethe - Italian Journey - Translation by Charles Nisbet
Vasi, Mannazale (Andrea Manazzale - Rome et ses environs - 1802), and that tribe of vade-mecums, may serve you the first week as mere valets-de-place in print, but you will soon dismiss them as insufficient. Those people parcel out Rome into day's-works, and throw every thing together, ancient or modern, sacred or profane, that lies in the same round. This plan is convenient enough for them who desire only to shew or to see Rome; but whoever would study it must arrange the objects of his study in a different order, deduced either from their kind or their age.
Joseph Forsyth - Remarks on Antiquities, Arts, and Letters in Italy in 1802-1803
Vasi provided not only a detailed view of Baroque Rome, but also of AncientRome, Medieval Rome, Renaissance Rome and Mannerist Rome.
This site contains also pages on many other locations, always with an eye to how they were in the past. You may wish to see a list of travel accounts about Rome and other towns/countries which are quoted in this website.

Start by having a look at a simple Map of the Walls of Rome or by seeing a sample page (Piazza Navona).

(Let's go!)

Note: I developed this website using a HTML for Dummies manual and I cannot guarantee the pages properly work on all existing hardware and software. I test the pages on Chrome with a screen of 1366x768. The website should not be regarded as an academic work. It is meant for armchair travellers and it does not provide guidance on practical matters related to journeys to Rome.

Other pages/sections which might be of interest to you:See you at another page of this website!

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A description of the monuments of Rome as they were seen by a Grand Tour traveller through the etchings of Giuseppe Vasi

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