The Four Books of Architecture

Book III Ways, Bridges, Piazzas & Xisti

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The Preface to the Reader

Having fully treated of private edifices, and taken notice of all the most necessary advertencies that ought in them to be had; and having, besides this, put the designs of many of those houses, that have been by me directed, both within and without cities, and of those which (according to Vitruvius) were made by the ancients; it is very proper, that, in directing my discourse to more excellent, and to more magnificent fabrics, I should now pass on to the public edifices: in which, as they are made more stately, and with more exquisite ornaments than the private, and serve for the use and conveniency of everybody, princes have therein a very ample opportunity to make the world acquainted with the greatness of their souls, and architects a very fine one to show their capacity in beautiful and wonderful inventions.

I desire therefore in this book, in which my antiquities begin, and in the others, which, God willing, shall follow, that so much the more attention may be applied, in considering the little that shall be said, and the designs that shall be given, as I have, with far greater fatigue, and much longer vigilancy, reduced those fragments that remained of the ancient edifices, to such a form, that the observers of antiquity may (I hope) take delight therein, and the lovers of architecture may thence receive very great utility; there being much more to be learnt from good examples in a little time, by measuring and seeing the entire edifices, with all their parts, upon a small leaf, than in a long time from words, by which, with the imagination only, and still some difficulty, the reader is able to attain a firm and certain knowledge of what he reads, and with much more difficulty will he put in practice.

And to everyone, that is not altogether void of judgement, it may be very manifest, how good the method was, which the ancients observed in building; since after so much time, and after so many ruins and mutations of empires, there still remain both in Italy and out of it, the vestigates of so many of their sumptuous edifices, by which we are able to get at a certain knowledge of the Roman virtue and grandeur, which perhaps had not otherwise been believed. I therefore, in this third book, (in placing the designs of the edifices contained in it) shall observe this order.

In the first place, I shall put those of the streets, and of the bridges, and belonging to that part of architecture which regards the ornaments of cities and of provinces, and which serves for the universal conveniency of mankind. For, as in the other fabrics which the ancients made, one may easily apprehend that they had no regard either to expense, or to any labour to bring them to that pitch of excellency, which has been granted them from our imperfection; so, in directing the roads, they took very great care, that they should be made in such manner, that also in them might be known the grandeur and magnificence of their minds. Wherefore, to make them both commodious and short, they cut through mountains, dried up fens, and joined with bridges, and so made easy and plain, those places, that had been sunk, either by vales or torrents.

I shall, afterwards, treat of piazzas in the manner that Virtruvius shews us the Greeks and Latins made them, and of those places that ought to be distributed round the piazzas. And because, among these, that place is worthy of great consideration, where the judges administer justice, called by the ancients Basilica, the designs of it shall be particularly set down. But because it is not sufficient, that the regions and the cities be well disposed and governed by most sacred laws, and have magistrates, who, as executors of the laws, keep the citizens in awe; if men are not also made prudent by learning, and strong and hearty by bodily exercise, that they may be able to govern both themselves and others, and to defend themselves from those who would oppress them; which is one principal reason why the in habitants of some countries, when dispersed in many small places, unite themselves, and form cities: wherefore the ancient Greeks made in their cities (as Vitruvius relates) some edifices, which they called Palestrae and Xisti, in which the philosophers assembled to dispute concerning the sciences, and the younger men were everyday exercised; and at certain appointed times the people assembled there to see the wrestlers contend.

The designs of those edifices shall also be inserted, and an end so put to this third book. After which, shall follow that of the temples belonging to religion, without which it would be impossible that civil society could be maintained.

Line with marks representing half the Vicentine foot

This line is half the Vicentine foot, with which the following edifices have been measured.

The whole foot is divided into twelve inches, and each inch into four minutes.

Chapter I Of Roads

The roads ought to be short, commodious, safe, delightful and beautiful; they will be short and commodious if made in a straight line, and if they be made ample, that so the carts and the cattle meeting, do not impede one another. And therefore it was an established law among the ancients, that the roads should not be narrower than eight foot, where they were straight; nor less than sixteen wide where they were crooked and winding. They will, besides this, be commodious if they are made even, that is, that there may not be any places, in which one cannot easily march with armies, and if they are not obstructed by water or rivers. We therefore read that the Emperor Trajan, regarding these two qualities, necessarily required in roads, when he repaired the most celebrated Appian way, which in many places was damaged by length of time, dried up fenny places, leveled mountains, filled up valleys, and erecting bridges where necessary, made traveling thereon very expeditious and easy.

Roads will be safe if made on hills, or if, when made through fields, according to ancient custom, they have a causeway to travel on, and if they have no places near them in which robbers and enemies can conveniently hide themselves; that so the travelers and the armies may be able to look about them, and easily discover if there should be any abuscade laid for them. Those roads that have the three abovesaid qualities, are also necessary beautiful and delightful to travelers, because of their straight direction from the city. The conveniency they afford, and besides being in them able to see at a great distance, and besides to discover a good deal of the country, whereby great part of the fatigue is alleviated, and our minds (having always a new prospect before our eyes) find great satisfaction and delight. A straight street in a city affords a most agreeable view, when it is ample and clean; on each side of which there are magnificent fabrics, made with those ornaments, which have been mentioned in the forgoing books.

As in cities beauty is added to the streets by find fabrics: so without they are adorned with trees; which being planted on each side of them, by their verdure enliven our minds, and by their shade afford very great conveniency. Of these kinds of roads there are many in the Vicentine; and among the rest, those that are at Cigogna, a villa belonging to the Signor Conte Odoardo Thieni, are celebrated; and at Quinto, a villa belonging to the Signor Conte Ottavio, of the same family: which being designed by me, have been since adorned, by the diligence and industry of the said gentlemen. The roads that are thus made, afford very great conveniencies, because that by their straight direction, and by being somewhat raised above the remaining part of the fields, speaking of those which are without the city, in the time of war, as I have said, the enemies may be discovered from a great distance, and so that resolution, which shall seem most convenient to the commander, may be taken; besides all which, at other times, with regard to the affairs that commonly happen among men, their brevity and conveniency will afford infinite advantages.

But because the streets are either within or without a city, I shall, in the first place, made particular mention of the qualities which those of a city ought to have; and then how those without are to made. And since there are some that are called military, which pass through the middle of the city, and lead from one city to another, and serve for the universal conveniency of travelers, and are those through which armies march, and carriages are conveyed; and others not military, which departing from the military, either lead to another military way, or are made for the use and particular conveniency of some villa: I shall, in the following chapters, only treat of the military ones, omitting the non-military, because these ought to be regulated by them; and the more they shall be like them, the more they’ll be commended.

Chapter II Of the Compartment of ways within the cities

In the compartment or disposition of the ways within a city, regard ought to be made to the temperature of the air, and to the region of the heaven, under which the city is situated. For in those of a temperate and cool air, the streets ought to be made ample and broad; considering, that by their breadth the city will be much wholesomer, more commodious, and more beautiful; seeing that the less subtile, and the more freely the air comes, so much the less it will offend the head. The more the city, therefore, is in a cold place, and hath a subtile air, and where the edifices are made very high, so much the wider the streets ought to be made, that they may, in each of their parts, be visited by the sun. And as to conveniency, there is no doubt, that, as much better room may be allowed to men, to cattle, and to carriages in broad than in the narrow streets, broad ones are more convenient than the narrow; it being manifest, that as there is much more light in the broad ones, and also that as one side is not so much obstructed by the other, is opposite, one is able, in the large ones, much better to consider the beauty of the temples, and of the palaces, whereby the eye receives greater contentment; it adds besides a greater ornament to the city.

But the city being in a hot country, its streets ought to be made narrow, and the houses high, that by their shade, and by the narrowness of the streets, the heat of the side may be tempered; by which means it will be more healthy. This is known by the example of Rome, which, according to Cornelius Tacitus, grew hotter, and less healthy, after Nero, to make it beautiful, had widened its streets. In such case, however, for the greater ornament and conveniency of the city, the streets most frequented by the principal arts, and by passengers, ought to be made spacious, and adorned with magnificent and sumptuous fabrics, that foreigners who pass through it, may easily incline to believe, that to the beauty and largeness of this, the other streets of the city may also correspond.

The principal streets, which we have called military, in the cities ought to be so comparted, that they may be straight, and lead from the gates of the city in a direct line to the greatest and principal piazza; and sometimes also, the site permitting it, lead in the same manner directly to the opposite gate; and according to the greatness of the city, by the same line. Of such streets, between the said principal piazza, and any of the gates you please, there ought to be one or more piazzas, made somewhat less than the before-said principal piazza.

The other streets, especially the more noble of them, ought also to be made, not only to lead the principal piazza, but also to the most remarkable temples, palaces, porticos, and other public fabrics.

But in this compartment of the streets, it ought to be observed, with the utmost diligence (as Vitruvious teaches us in the sixth chapter of his first book) that they should not in a direct line face some winds; that through them furious and violent winds may not be felt; but that they may, with more salubrity to the inhabitants, come broken, gentle, purified and spend, left the same inconveniency should be incurred which happened to those who in the island of Lesbos laid out the streets of Mitylene, from which the city the whole island has now taken the name.

The streets in a city ought to be paved; and we read, that under the consulship of M. Æmilius, the censors began to pave in Rome, where some are still to be seen, which are all even, and are paved with irregular stones; which manner of paving, how it was done, shall be mentioned hereafter. But if one is willing to divide the place where men are to talk, from that which serves for the use of carts and of cattle, I should like that the streets were divided, that on the one and on the other part there were porticos made, through which the citizens might, under cover, go and do their business, without being molested by the sun, by the rains and snow: in which manner are almost all the streets of Padua disposed, a very ancient city, and celebrated of learning. Or if no porticos be made, (in which case the streets will be more ample and pleasant) some margins are to be made on each side, paved with mattoni, which are baked stones, thicker and narrower than bricks, because they do not at all offend the feet in walking; and the middle part is to be left for the carts and cattle, and to be paved with flints, or any other hard stones.

The streets ought to be somewhat concave in the middle, and slanting, that the water which falls from the houses may all run to one place, and have a freer course, whereby the streets are left clean, and are not the cause of bad air; as is the case when it stops in any place, and there are putrifies.

Chapter III Of the Ways without the city

The ways without the city ought to be made ample, commodious, having trees on either side, by which travelers may be defended from the scorching heats of the sun, and their eyes receive some recreation from the verdure. The ancients took great care of these ways: that they might therefore always be in good repair, they established proveditors and curators of them; by whom many of them were made, of which there still remains some memory of their beauty and conveniency, although they have been impaired by time. But the Flaminian and the Appian are the most famous of them all; the first was made by Flaminius, while he was consul, after the victory he had over the Genoese. This way began from the gate Flumentana, now called del Popolo, and passing through Tuscany, and through Umbria, led to Rimini; from which city it was afterwards continued to Bologna by M. Lepidus, his colleague; and near the foot of the Alps, by windings, to avoid the fens, he carried it to Aquileia. The Appian took its name from Appius Claudius, by whom it was made with much skill and at great expense: thence, for its magnificence and wonderful artifice, it was by the poets called the Queen of ways. This street began from Coliseo, and through the gate Capena reached to Brindisi. It was continued only to Capua by Appius; from thence forwards, there is no certainty who made it; and it is the opinion of some, that it was Cæsar: because we read in Plutarch, that the care of this way being given to Cæsar, he spent thereon a great deal of money. It was lastly repaired by the Emperor Trajan, who (as I have said before) by drying up fenny places, leveling mountains, filling up valleys, and by making bridges where it was necessary, made the traveling thereon both expeditious and agreeable. The Via Aurelia is also very much celebrated. It was so called from Aurelius, a Roman citizen, who made it. It began from the gate Aurelia, now called San. Pacratio, and extending itself through the maritime places of Tuscany, led to Pisa.

The Via Numentana, the Praenestina, and the Libicana, were of no less renown, the first began from the gate Viminalis, now called S. Agnesa, and reached to the city of Nomentum; the second began from the gate Esquilina, which is now called S. Lorenzo; and the third from the gate Nevia, that is, from the Porta Maggiore; and these ways led to the city of Præneste, now called Pelestrino, and to the famous city of Labicana.

There were also many other ways mentioned and celebrated by writers, that is, the Salara, the Collatina, the Latina, and others; all which took their names either from those who ordered them, or from the gates where they began, or from the places whither they led. But among them all, the Via Portuense must have been of the utmost beauty and conveniency, which led from Rome to Ostia; because (as Alberti saith he has observed) it was divided into two streets; between the one and the other of which there was a course of stones a foot higher than the remaining part of the way, and which served for a division: by one of these ways people went, and by the other they returned, avoiding thereby inconvenience of meeting; an invention very commodious for the very great concourse of people that, from all parts of the world, was at Rome in those times.

The ancients made these their military ways in two manners; that is, either paving them with stones or by covering them all over with sand or gravel. The ways after the first manner, (from what one has been able to conjecture by some vestigia) were divided into three spaces. Upon that in the middle, which was higher than the other two, and which was somewhat raised toward the middle, that the water might run off and not settle there, those who were on foot traveled. This was paved with irregular stones, that is, of unequal sides and angles; in which manner of paving (as it has been elsewhere said) they made use of a leaden rule, which they opened and shut according to the sides and angles of the stones: they therefore joined them exceeding well together, and that with great expedition. The other two spaces that were on each side, were made somewhat lower, and were covered with sand and small gravel, and on these went the horses.

Each of these margins were as wide as half the breadth of the space in the middle, from which they were divided by roads of stones placed edge-ways, and there was at every such distance some stones placed end-ways, a foot higher than the remaining part of the street. Upon these the ancients stepped when they were willing to mount on horseback, and they did not make use of stirrups.

Beisdes these stones placed for the said use, there were other stones much higher, upon which, from place to place, were marked the miles of the whole journey; and these ways were measured, and the said stones fixed by Cneus Graccus.

The military ways after the second manner, that is, made of sand and gravel, were made by the ancients somewhat raised in the middle, by means of which the water could not lodge there; and being of a substance apt to dry quickly, and of itself, they were always clean, that is, without dirt or dust. Of this sort there is one to be seen in Friuli, which is called by the inhabitants of those places la Posthuma, and leads into Hungary. There is another also in the Padouan, which beginning from the said city, in the place named l’Argere, passes through the middle of Gigogna, a villa belonging to count Odoaro, and to Count Theodore de Thieni, brothers, and leads to the Alps, which divide Italy from Germany.

The following design is of the ways according to the first manner, from which one may know how the Via Hostiensis must have been made. It did not appear to me necessary to give a design of the second manner, because it is a very easy thing, as there is no need of any industry, provided they are but made rising in the middle, that the water may possibly not stand there.

  1. is the space in the middle, on which the people on foot traveled
  2. are the stones that served to mount on horseback
  3. are the margins covered with sand and gravel, on which the horses went

Chapter IV Of what ought to be observed in the building of Bridges, and of the site that ought to be chosen

Forasmuch as many rivers, by reason of their breadth, height, and rapidity, cannot be forded, the conveniency of bridges was first thought on. It may therefore be said, that they are a principal part of the way, and that they are but a street above water. They ought to have the same qualities that we have said were required in all other fabrics, that is, to be commodious, beautiful, and for a long time durable. they will be commodious when they are not raised above the rest of the way, and if they be raised, to have their ascent easy; and such place is to be chosen to build them in, as ought to be most convenient to the whole province, or to the whole city, according as they are to be built, either within or without the walls.

Choice ought therefore to be made of that place to which one may go from all parts easily, that is, in the middle of the province, or in the middle of the city, as Nitocre Queen of Babylon did the bridge she built over the Euphrates; and not in an angle, where it can be of use only to a few. They’ll be beautiful and durable for a long time, if they are made after the manner, and with those measures that shall particularly be mentioned hereafter.

But in pitching on the site for building them, one ought to observe to choose it so as may give hopes that the bridge there built will be perpetual, and where it may be made with as little expense as possible. That place therefore is to be chosen, in which the river shall be less deep, and shall have its bed or bottom even and durable, that is, of rock or stone, because (as has been said in the first book, when I spoke of the places to lay foundations on) stone and rock make very good foundations in waters: besides which, gulfs and whirlpools ought to be avoided, as also that part of the bottom, or bed of the river, which shall be gravelly or sandy; for sand and gravel being continually moved by the floods, this changes the bed of the river, and the foundations being thereby undermined, would of necessity occasion the ruin of the work. But when the whole bed of the river is gravel and sand, the foundations ought to be made as shall be directed hereafter, when I come to treat of stone bridges.

Regard also is to be had, to choose that site in which the river’s course s direct; since the windings and crooked parts of the banks are subject to be carried away by the water; in such a case therefore the bridge would remain like an island, disunited from the banks: and also, because during the floods, the waters carry into the said windings, all the matter they wash from the banks and fields, which not being able to go directly down, stops other things, and clogging the pilasters, fills up the opening of the arches; whereby the work suffers in such a manner, that by the weight of the water only, it falls in time to ruin.

The place therefore to be chosen for building bridges, ought to be in the middle of the country or of the city, and as convenient to all the inhabitants as possible, and where the river has a direct course, and its bed equal, perpetual, and shallow. But as bridges are either made of wood or of stone, I shall particularly mention the manner of both the one and the other, and shall give some designs of them, both ancient and modern.

Chapter V Of Wooden Bridges, and of the advertencies which ought to be had in the building of them

Bridges are made of wood, either upon one occasion only, like those which are made for all those accidents that usually happen in war; of which sort that is the most celebrated which Julius Cæsar directed over the Rhine; or secondly, that they perpetually serve for the conveniency of everybody. After this manner we read that Hercules built the first bridge that ever was made, over the Tiber, in the place where Rome was afterwards built; when, after having killed Geryon, he victoriously led his herd through Italy. It was called the holy bridge, and was situated in that part of the Tiber, where afterwards the Pons Sublicius was built by Ancus Martius the King, which was likewise all of timber, and its beams were joined together was so much art, that one could take them away, and replace them according as necessity should require, there being neither nails nor any iron whatsoever in it. How it was constructed is not known; but by what writers say of it, that it was made upon great pieces of timber, which supported others, from which it took the name of Sublicius; because such timbers in the Volscian tongue were called Sublices.

This was the bridge that was defended by Horatius Cocles, with so much advantage to his native country, and glory to himself. This bridge was near Ripa, where there are still vestigia to be seen in the middle of the river, because it was afterwards made of stone by Æmilius Lepidus the prætor, and restored the Emperor Tiberius, and by Antoninus Pius.

Wooden bridges of this kind ought to be made in such a manner, that they may be very strong, and so tied together by large strong timbers, that there may not be any danger of their breaking, either through the great multitude of people, and of animals, or by the weight of the carriages and the artillery that shall pass over them, nor liable to be ruined by the inundations and the flood in rivers. Those that are made at the gates of the cities, however, which we call drawbridges, because they may be raised and let fall according to the will of those within, are usually paved, or covered with bars or plates of iron, that they may not be spoiled or broken by the wheels of carriages, and by the feet of cattle.

The timbers, as well those which are fixed in the water, as those that form the length and breadth of the bridge, ought to be long and thick, according as the depth, the breadth, and the velocity of the river shall require.

But because the particulars are infinite, one cannot give a certain and determinate rule for them. Wherefore I shall give some designs, and shall mention their measures, from which everyone may easily be able, according as occasion shall offer, of exercising the acuteness of his understanding, to take his measures and form a work that is worthy of praise.

Chapter VI Of the Bridge directed by Julius Cæsar over the Rhine

Julius Cæsar having (as he says in the fourth book of his Commentaries) resolved to pass the Rhine, that the Roman power might also be felt in Germany, and judging that it was not a very safe thing, nor worthy either of him, or of the Romans, to pass it in barks, ordered a bridge, an admirable work, and most difficult by reason of the breadth, height, and rapidity of the river. But how this bridge was built, (although he describes it) is, nevertheless, not known, as the force of some of the words by him used in the description of it, is not understood; so has it been variously set down in designs, according to diverse inventions. As I have also thought a little upon it, I would therefore not omit this opportunity of setting down the manner of it, which I imagined in my youth, when first I read the said Commentaries, because it agrees pretty much (in my opinion) with Cæsar’s words, and because it succeeds admirably well, as the effect has been seen in a bridge I have directed just without Vicenza, over the Bachiglione.

It is not my intention to confute the opinions of others, as they are all very learned men, an worthy of the utmost praise. For having left it in their writings as they understood it, and by means of their industry and fatigue, they have greatly facilitated the understanding of it to us. But before we come to the designs, I shall give words of Cæsar, which are these:

Rationem igitur pontis hanc instituit. Tigna bina sesquipedalia, paululum ab imo præcuta, dimensa ad altitudinem fluminis, intervallo pedum duorum inter se jungebat. Hæc cum machinationibus dimissa in flumen defixerat, fistucisque adegerat, non sublicæ modo directa ad perpendiculum, sed prona, ac fastigiata, ut secundum naturam fluminis procumberent: bis item contraria duo ad eundem modum juncta intervallo pedum quadragenum ab inferiore parte contra vim atque imipetum fluminis conversa statuebat. Hæc utraque insuper bipedalibus trabibus immissis, quantum eorum tignorum junctura distabat, binis utrinque fibulis ab extrema parte distinebantur. Quibus disclusis, atque in contrariam partem revinctis, tanta erat operis firmitudo, atque ea rerum natura, ut quo major vis aquæ se incitavisset, hac arctius illigata tenerentur. Hæc directa injecta materia contexebantur, ac longuriis, oratibusque consternebantur. Ac nihilo secius sublicæ ad inferiorem partem fluminis oblique adigebantur, quæ pro pariete subjectæ, & cum omni opere conjuntæ, vim fluminis exciperent. Et aliæ, item supra pontem mediocri spatio, ut si arborum trunci, sive naves dijiciendi operis causa essent à Barbaris missæ, his defensoribus, earum rerum vis minuerentur, neu ponti nocerent.

The sense of which words is, that he ordered a bridge in this manner. He joined two beams, each a foot and a half thick, two foot distant from each other, something sharp in the part below, and as long as the height of the river required; and having with machines fixed these beams in the bottom of the river, he drove them into it with a rammer, not directly plumb, but leaning in such a manner, as to be slanting according to the current of the water. Opposite to these, in the inferior part of the river, and at the distance of forty foot, he fixed to others, joined together in the same manner, slanting these against the strength and impetuosity of the river. Between these two beams he fastened other beams two foot thick, that is, equal to their distance from each other. They were held at each end by two braces, which being open, and bound contrary to each other, so great was the strength of the work, and such was the nature of the things, that by how much greater the strength of the water was, so much the firmer the whole kept braced together. These timbers were intermixed with other timbers, and covered with poles and hurdles. Besides which, in the lower part of the river, there were posts joined slanting, which were placed underneath instead of buttresses, and being united to the whole work, served to resist the strength of the river. There were others also joined in the part above the bridge, at the moderate space, that in case trunks of trees, or ships, should be sent down the river by the Barbarians to ruin the work, it might by these ramparts avoid their violence, and prevent them from hurting the bridge.

Thus Cæsar describes the bridge by him ordered over the Rhine; to which description the following invention seems to me very comfortable, all the parts of which are marked with letters.

  1. Are the two beams joined together one foot and an half thick, something sharp in the lower part, fixed in the bottom of the river, no upright, but learning with the current, and two foot distant from each other.
  2. Are two other beams placed in the lower part of the river opposite to the abovementioned, and distant from them the space of forty foot, and slanting against the current of the river.
  3. Is the form of one of the beams by itself.
  4. Are the beams two foot thick every way, that formed the breadth of the bridge, which was forty foot.
  5. Is one of the said beams.
  6. Are the beams, which being open, that is, divided one from the other, and bound contrary to each other, that is one in the part within, and the other in the part without; the one above, and the other below the beams, two foot thick, that formed the breadth of the bridge, and give so great a firmness to the work, that the greater the violence of the water, and the more the bridge was laden, so much the more it united, and the firmer it was.
  7. Is one of the beams.
  8. Are the beams that were put length-ways on the bridge, and were covered with plates and hurdles.
  9. Are the posts placed in the lower part of the river, which being slanting and joined with the whole work, resisted the violence of the stream.
  10. Are the posts paced in the part above the bridge to defend it in case the enemy should send trees or ships down the river to ruin it.
  11. Are two of those beams that were joined together, and not driven in the river directly plumb, but slanting.
  12. Is the head of the beams that formed the breadth of the bridge.

Chapter VII Of the Bridge of Cismone

The Cismone is a river, which falling from the mountains that divide Italy from Germany, runs into Brenta, a little above Bassano. And because it is very rapid, and that by it the mountaineers send great quantities of timber down, a resolution was taken to make a bridge there, without fixing any posts in the water, as the beams that were fixed there were shaken and carried away by the violence of the current, and by the shock of the stones and trees that by it are continually carried down: wherefore Count Giacomo Angarano, who owns the bridge, was under the necessity of renewing it every year.

The invention of this bridge is, in my opinion, very worthy of attention, as it may serve upon all occasions, in which the said difficulties shall occur; and because that brings thus made, are strong, beautiful, and commodious: strong, because all their parts mutually support each other; beautiful, because the texture of the timbers is very agreeable and commodious, being even and in the same line with the remaining part of the street. The river where this bridge was ordered, is one hundred foot wide; the breadth is divided into six equal parts; and at the end of each part (excepting at the banks, which are strengthened with pilasters of stone) the beams are placed, that form the bed, and breadth of the bridge; upon which, a little space being left at their ends, were placed other beams lengthways, which form the sides. Over these, directly upon the first, the colonelli on each side were disposed (so we call those beams vulgarly, that in such works are place directly upright.) These colonelli are bound with the beams (which, as was said, formed the breadth of the bridge) with irons which we call cramps, passing through a hole, made for that purpose in the heads of the said beams, in that part which advances beyond the beams that form the sides.

These cramps, because they are in the upper part along the said upright and plain colonelli, are perforated in several places. And in the under part, near the said thick beams, by one hole only, sufficiently large, they were driven into the colonello, and fastened afterwards underneath with iron bolts, made for that purpose; they therefore made the whole work to be in a manner united. The beams that form the breadth, and those of the sides being as it were, of one piece with the colonelli, support the beams that form the breadth of the bridge; and those are also supported by the arms that go from one olonello to the others, whereby all the parts are supported by the one by the other; and their nature is such, that the greater the weight upon the bridge, so much the more they bind together, and increase the strength of the work. All the said arms, and the other beams that form the texture of the bridge, are but one foot broad, and but three quarters thick. But those teams that form the bed of the bridge, that is, those that are laid long ways, are a great deal smaller.

  1. The flank of the bridge
  2. The pilasters that are on the banks
  3. The heads of the beams that form the breadth
  4. The beams that form the sides
  5. The colonelli
  6. The heads of the cramps, with the iron bolts
  7. Are the arms, which bearing contrary to each other, support the whole work
  8. Is the plan of the bridge
  9. Are the beams that form the breadth, and advance beyond the sides, near which the holes are made for the cramps
  10. Are small beams that form the bed of the bridge

Chapter VIII Of three other Inventions, according to which wooden bridges may be made, without fixing any posts in the water

Wooden bridges may be made, without posts in the water, like the bridge on the Cismone, after three other manners; of which I would not omit giving the designs, because they are of a most beautiful contrivance, and may be more easily understood by everyone who shall have made himself master of the terms made use of in the said bridge on the Cismone; because these also consist of beams placed cross ways, of the colonelli, of cramps, and of beams placed long ways, that form the sides.

The bridges, therefore, after the first invention, are to be made this manner: the banks being first fortified with pilasters, as necessity shall require, one of the beams that forms the breadth of the bridge is to be placed at some distance from them, and then the beams that form the sides, are to be disposed upon it, which with one of their heads are to lie upon the bank, and to be fastened to it; after which, upon these, directly plumb with the beams placed for the breadth, the colonelli are to be fixed, which are to be fastened to the said beams with cramps of iron, and supported by the braces well fastened to the said beams with cramps of iron, and supported by the braces well fastened to the heads of the bridge; that is, in the beams that form the sides upon the bank: then leaving as much space as has been left from the said beam for the breadth to the bank, the other beam for the breadth is to be placed, and fastened in the same manner with the beams that shall be placed upon them lengthways of the bridge, and with the colonelli, and the colonelli to be supported by their braces, and thus continue from one order to another, as far as shall be requisite. Observing always in such bridges as these, that in the middle of the breadth of the river, there may be a colonello, in which the braces in the middle meet, and that other beams be fixed in the upper part of the colonelli, which joining from the colonello to the other will keep them united, and will form, with the braces in the head of the bridge, the portion of a circle, less than a semicircle. And in this manner, making every brace support its colonello, and every colonello support the beam for the breadth, and those that make the sides, whereby every part bears its own weight.

Bridges made after this manner, are wide at the heads, and grow narrow towards the middle of their length. There are none in Italy made after this manner; but conversing with Messer Alessandro Picheroni, a Mirandolese, he told me he had seen one in Germany.

  1. Is the elevation of the flank of the bridge
  2. Are the heads of the beams that form the breadth
  3. Are the beams placed for the length
  4. Are the colonelli
  5. Are the braces, which being fixed in the beams for the length, support the colonelli
  6. Are the beams that bind one colonello with the other, and form a portion of a circle
  7. Is the bottom of the river
  8. Is the plan of said bridge
  9. Are the first beams, which at one end are supported by the bank, and at the other by the first beams for the breadth
  10. Are the second beams, which are supported by the first and by the second beam for the breadth
  11. Are the third beams, which are supported by the second and by the third beam for the breadth
  12. And then there are those beams that form the breadth (as I have said) supported by the colonelli, to which they are fastened, and the colonelli by the braces

The invention of the following bridge has the upper part, which is what supports all the weight, made a portion of a circle less than a semicircle, and has the braces, that go from one colonello to another, so disposed, that in the middle of the spaces which are between the colonelli, they cross each other.

The teams that form the floor of the bridge, are bound to the colonelli with cramps, as they are in the above mentioned invention. And for a greater strength, one might add two beams at the each end of the bridge, which being fastened with one end in the pilasters, and the other reaching under the first colonelli, they would help very much to support the weight of the bridge.

  1. Is the upright of the bridge in flank
  2. Are the beams that form the sides of the bridge
  3. Are the heads of the beams that form the breadth
  4. Are the colonelli
  5. Are the braces, that is, the fence of the bridge
  6. Are the beams placed under the bridge, at each end, that help support the weight
  7. Is the floor of the bridge
  8. The bottom of the river

This last invention may be made with a greater or a smaller arch than it is here designed, according to the quality of the site, and as the greatness of the river shall require. The height of the bridge, in which are the fences, are the braces that go from one colonello to another, must be an eleventh part of the breadth of the river. All the mortices that are made, ought, from the colonelli, to answer exactly to the centre, which will make the work very strong; and the colonelli will support the beams for the breadth, and for the length of the bridge, as in the abovesaid. The bridges, after these four manners, may be enlarged as necessity shall require, making all their parts stronger in proportion.

  1. Is the upright of the bridge in flank
  2. Is the floor of the bridge
  3. Are the colonelli
  4. Are the braces that fence and support the colonelli
  5. Are the heads of the beams that form the breadth of the bridge
  6. Is the bottom of the river

Chapter IX Of the bridge of Bassano

Near Bassano, a country situated at the foot of the Alps which separates Italy from Germany, I have directed the following wooden bridge over the Brenta, a most rapid river, that discharges itself into the sea near Venice, and was by the ancients called Medoacus, to which, (as Livy relates in his first Decad) Cleonimus the Spartan came with a naval army before the Trojan war. The river, in the place where the bridge was made, is one hundred and eighty foot wide. This breadth is divided into five equal parts, because the two banks being very well fortified, that is, the heads of the bridge, with beams of oak and of larix, four orders of piles were made in the river, thirty four foot and an half distant the one from the other. Each of these orders consists of eight beams thirty foot long, and a foot and an half thick every way, and distant two foot one from the other: hence the whole length of the bridge comes to be divided into five spaces, and its breadth is twenty six foot. Upon the said orders were placed some cross beams, according to the said breadth (this sort of beams so placed, are vulgarly called correnti) which being nailed to the beams driven in the river, hold them all together, joined and united. Upon these correnti, plumb on the said beams, were placed eight other beams, which make the length of the bridge, and reach from one order to the other. And because the distance between the said orders is very great, hence with difficulty the beams placed length ways, could have been able to support the weight that might have been put upon them, when it should have been great, some beams were placed between these and the correnti, that serve for modiglions, and support part of the weight: besides which, other beams were placed, which being fastened in those that were driven into the river, and leaning the one towards the other, were united with another beam placed in the middle of the said distance under each beam for the length. These beams so placed, represent an arch, having the fourth part of its diameter in height; and so the work becomes beautiful in its form; and strong, because the beams that form the length of the bridge, are thereby doubled in the middle.

Upon these are put other beams cross ways, which make the plan or floor of the bridge, and project something more than the remaining part of the work, and appear like the modiglions of a cornice. On each side of the bridge are placed the columns that support the roof, and serve as a loggia, and make the whole work very commodious and beautiful.

  1. Is the line of the surface of the water
  2. Is the upright of the flank of the bridge
  3. Are the orders of piles driven into the river
  4. Are the heads of the correnti
  5. Are the beams that make the length of the bridge, upon which are seen the heads of those that form the floor
  6. Are the beams, which leaning one towards the other, are united with other beams placed in the middle of the distance, that is, between the orders of piles; hence in the said place the beams comes to be double
  7. Are the columns that support the roof
  8. Is the upright of one of the heads of the bridge
  9. Is the plan of the orders of piles with the buttresses which hinder the said piles being shaken by the timber that comes down the river
  10. Is the scale of ten feet, with which the whole work is measured

Chapter X Of Stone Bridges, and what ought to be observed in the building of them

Men at first made bridges of wood, as being attentive to their present necessity only; but since they have begun to have a regard for the immortality of their name, and when riches gave them spirit, and conveniency to do greater things, they began to build with stone, which is more durable, of greater expense, and of more glory to the builders. In these, four things ought to be considered; that is, the heads, made in the banks; the pilasters that are sunk into rivers; the arches, that are supported by the pilasters; and the pavement, which is made upon the arches. The heads of bridges ought to be made very firm and solid, since they not only serve to support the weight of the arches as the other pilasters do, but they keep the whole bridge united besides, and prevent the arches from opening; and therefore they must be made very firm by nature cannot be had, they must be made firm and strong by art; making there other pilasters and other arches, so that if the banks should be ruined by the water, the way to the bridge may not be interrupted.

The pilasters that are made for the breadth of the river, ought to be in number even; as well because we see the nature has produced all those things of this number, which being more than one, are to support any weight, as the legs of men, and all the other animals can justify: as also because this same compartment is more agreeable to be looked at, and renders the work more firm; because the course of eh river in the middle, (in which place is naturally more rapid, as being farther from the banks) is free, and doth not damage the pilasters by continually shaking them. The pilasters ought to be so comparted, as to fall in that part of the river where the stream is less rapid.

The greatest current of the waters, is where those things gather together that swim upon it, which may easily be known at the increase of the river. Their foundations must be made in that time of the year when the waters are lowest, that is, in autumn: and if the bottom of the river stone, or of tofo or of scaranto, which as I have said (in the first book) is a sort of arch, that is partly stone, the foundations will be had without the fatigue of digging; because these sorts of bottoms are an excellent foundation of themselves. But if the bottom of the river be of gravel or sand, one must dig until the solid ground is found; and if that be difficult, some of the gravel or sand must be dug out, and then piles of oak, must be driven there, which, with the iron points that are made to them, must reach the solid and firm bottom.

To lay the foundations of the pilasters, on enough to enclose but on part of the river only, and build in that, that the water may have its course by the other part left open; and thus proceed from one part to another. The pilasters ought to be thinner than the sixth part of the breadth of the arch; nor ordinarily thicker than the fourth. They must be made with large stones, which are to be joined together with cramps, and with iron or metal nails, that such concatenations they may come to be all as of one piece. The fronts of the pilasters are commonly made angular, that is, that they have in their extremity a rectangle; and some are also made sometimes semicircular, that they may cut the water, and that those things which are carried down by the impetuosity of the river, may, by striking against them, be thrown off from the pilasters, and pass through the middle of the arch.

The arches ought to be made firm and strong, and with large stones, which must be well joined together, that they may be able to resist the continual passing of carts, and support the weight, that occasionally may be conveyed over them. Those arches are very firm that are made semi-circuar, because they bear upon the pilasters, and do not shock one another. But if by reason of the quality of the site, and the disposition of the pilasters, the semicircle should offend by reason of the too great height, making the ascent of the bridge difficult, the diminished must be made use of, by making arches, that have but the third part of their diameter in height; and, in such case, the foundations in the banks must be made very strong. The pavement of bridges must be made after the same manner, as the ways are paved, of which mention has has been made before. Hence, as all that is to be observed in the building of stone bridges has been seen, it is time that we pass on to the designs.

Chapter XI Of some celebrated Bridges built by the ancients, and of the designs of the bridge of Rimino

Many bridges were built by the ancients in diverse places. But in Italy, especially over the Tyber, they built a great many, of which some are still to be seen entire; and of some others there are the ancient vestigia only remaining. Those that are still to be seen entire, over the Tyber, are that the castle Santo Angelo, formerly called Ælius, the name of the Emperor Ælius Andrianus, who built thereon his own sepulchre. The Fabricius, built by Fabricius, now called Ponte Quatro Capi, from the four heads of Janus, or of Terminus, which are placed on the left hand going upon this bridge. By means of this bridge, the island of the Tyber is joined to the city. The Cestius, now called San. Bartolomeo, which from the other side of the island passes to Transtevere. The bridge called Senatorius from the senators, and Palatinus from the mountain that is near it, made of rustic work, which at present is called of Santa Maria. But those bridges of which the ancient vestigia are only seen in the Tyber, are, the Sublicius, called also Lepidus, from Æmelius Lepidus, which being first of wood, he made if of stone, and it was near Ripa. The Triumphal, the pilasters of which are to be seen opposite to the church of Santo Spirito. The Janiculensis, so called for being near mount Janiculus, which as it was rebuilt by Pope Sixtus IV. now is called Ponte Sisto. And the Milvius, now called Ponte Molle, placed in the Via Flaminia, somewhat less than two miles distant from Rome; which does not retain anything ancient beisdes the foundations; and they say, that it was built in the time of Silla, by M. Scaurus the censor. There are also the ruins of a bridge built by Augustus Cæsar, to be seen of rustic work, over the Nera, a very rapid river near Narni. And over the Metauro in Umbria at Galgi, another is to be seen of rustic work likewise, with some spurs in the banks, that support the street, and make it very strong.

But among all the celebrated bridges, that is recorded as a marvelous thing which Caligula made from Pozzuolo to Baie, in the middle of the sea, in the length somewhat less than three miles; in which they say, that he spent all the money of the empire. Exceeding great, and worthy of admiration, and that which Trajan built, to subdue the Barbarians over the Danube, opposite to Transilvania, on which were read these words:

Providentia augusti vere pontificis virtus romana quid non domet? Subjugo ecce rapidus et danubius.

This bridge was afterwards ruined by Adrian, that the Barbarians might not be able to pass it, to the damage of the Roman provinces; and its pilasters are still to be seen in the middle of the river. But considering, that of all the bridges I have seen, that at Rimino, a city in Flaminia, seems to me to be the most beautiful, and the most worthy of consideration, as well for its strength, as for its compartment and disposition. It was built, I judge, by Augustus Cæsar. I have given the designs of it, which are those that follow. It is divided into five arches, the three middle ones are equal, and five and twenty foot in breadth, and the two next the banks are less, that is, only twenty foot broad. All those arches are semicircular, and their modeno is the tenth part of the void of the greater, and the eighth part of the void of the lesser. The pilasters are in the thickness, a little less than half the void of the greater arches. The angle of the spurs, that cut the water, is a right one, which I have observed that the ancients made in all their bridges; because it is stronger than the acute one, and therefore less exposed to be ruined by the trees, or by other matters that should be carried down by the river. Directly over the pilasters, in the sides of the bridge, are some tabernacles, in which formerly there must have been statues. Over these tabernacles, according to the length of the bridge, there is a cornice, which although it is plain, affords a beautiful ornament to the whole work.

  1. Is the said cornice over the tabernacles of the bridge
  2. Is the surface of the water
  3. Is the bottom of the river
  4. A scale of ten foot, with which this bridge is measured

Chapter XII Of the Bridge of Vicenza, that is over the Bacchiglione

There run through Vicenza two rivers, one of which is called the Bacchiglione, and the other the Rerone. The Rerone, as it goes out of the city, enters into the Bacchiglione, and immediately loses its name. Over these rivers are two ancient bridges; of that over the Bacchiglione, the pilasters and one arch, still entire, to be seen near the church of S. Maria de gli Angioli. The remaining part is all modern work. This bridge is divided into three arches; that in the middle is thirty foot wide, the other two are but two and twenty foot and an half in breadth; which was done that the river might have in the middle a freer course. The pilasters are in the thickness the fifth part of the void of the lesser arches, and the sixth of the greater. The arches have in height the third part of their diameter. Their modeno is in thickness the ninth part of the lesser arches, and the twelfth of that in the middle, and are wrought in the manner of an architrave. In the extreme parts of the length of the pilasters, under the imposts of the arches, some stones project forward, which in building of the bridge, served to support the beams, upon which were made the centerings of the arches. And, in this manner, the danger of the floods carrying away the beams, to the ruin of the work, was avoided; which had it been done otherwise, it would have been necessary to drive them into the river, to make the said centerings.

  1. Is the breastwork of the bridge
  2. Is the modeno of the arches
  3. Are the stones that project from the remaining part of the pilasters, and serve for the centering of the arches
  4. Are the heads of the bridge

Chapter XIII Of the Stone Bridge of my invention

The invention of the following bridge, is, in my opinion, very beautiful, and well adapted to the place where it was to have been built; which was in the middle of the city, that is one of the greatest, and of the most noble in Italy, and is the metropolis of many other cities, and where there is a very great traffic carried on, almost from every part of the world. The river is very broad, and the bridge would have been the very spot where the merchants assemble to treat of their affairs. Therefore, to keep up to the grandeur and dignity of the said city, and also to add a very great income to it, I made upon the bridge, in its full breadth, three streets; that in the middle, ample and beautiful, and the other two, one on each side, somewhat less. On each side of these streets I ordered shops, so that there would have been six rows of them. Besides this, in the heads of the bridge, and in the middle, that is, upon the greatest arch, I made loggias, in which the merchants might have assembled to negotiate together; and it would have afforded conveniency, and very great beauty. One might have gone up to the loggias, in the heads, by a few steps; and level with them would have been the floor of all the remaining part of the bridge. It ought not to seem a novelty that loggias are made upon bridges, because the bridge Ælius in Rome, of which mention has been made in its place, was covered over with loggias, with columns of bronzo, with statues, and with other curious ornaments. Besides which, on this occasion for the above-mentioned reasons, it was almost necessary to make them. In the proportions of the pilasters, and of the arches, the same order has been observed, and the same rules have been laid down on the above-mentioned bridges, which every one may easily find out himself.

Parts of the plan.

  1. Is the beautiful and ample street made in the middle of the breadth of the bridge
  2. Are the lesser streets
  3. Are the shops
  4. Are the loggias in the heads of the bridge
  5. Are the steps that go up to the said loggias
  6. The loggias in the middle upon the greatest arch of the bridge

The parts of the upright correspond to those of the plan, and therefore may easily be understood, without any farther explication.

  1. The upright of the shops, in the part without, that is over the river; and in the plate appears the upright of the same shops towards the street
  2. Is the line of the surface of the water

Chapter XIV Of another Bridge of my invention

My opinion being asked by some gentlemen concerning a bridge they designed to build of stone, I made them the following invention. The river where the bridge was intended, is one hundred and eighty foot wide. I divided this whole breadth into three voids, making that in the middle sixty foot wide, and the other two forty eight foot apiece.

The pilasters that support the arches were twelve foot thick, and so were in thickness the fifth part of the void of that in the middle, and the fourth of the smaller voids. I somewhat altered, in these, the ordinary measures, making them very thick, that they might project out from the body of the breadth of the bridge; and that they might the better resist the impetuosity of the river, which is very rapid, and the stones and timber that might be carried down by it. The arches would have been a segment of circle less than a semicircle, that the ascent of the bridge might have been easy and plain. I made the modeno of the arches the seventeenth part of the void of the arch in the middle, and the fourteenth of the void of the other two.

This bridge might have been adorned with niches directly over the pilasters and with statues; and a cornice along its sides would have had a good effect: which was also sometimes done by the ancients, as one may see in the bridge of Rimino, ordered by Augustus Cæsar, the designs of which have been given before.

  1. The surface of the water
  2. The bottom of the river
  3. The stones that protect, for the use abovesaid
  4. The scale of ten foot, by which the whole work is measured

Chapter XVI Of the Piazze, and of the edifices that are made round them

Besides the streets, of which mention has been made above, it is necessary that in cities, according to their bigness, there should be more or fewer piazze comparted, in which people assemble to contract for things useful and necessary for their wants: and as they are applied to different uses, so a proper and convenient place ought to be given to each. Those ample places are left in cities, besides the said conveniency, that there the people assemble to walk, discourse, and bargain in; they afford also a great ornament, when at the head of a street, a beautiful and spacious place is found, from which the prospect of some beautiful fabric is seen, and especially of some temple. But as it is of advantage, there may be many piazze dispersed through the city, so it is much more necessary, magnificent, and honourable, that there be one principal, which truly may be called public. These principal piazze ought to be made of such bigness, as the multitude of the citizens shall require, that it may not be small for their conveniency and use, or that, through the small number of people, they may not seem uninhabited. In sea-port town they must be made near the port; and in inland cities they must be made in the middle of them, that they may be convenient for every part of the city.

Porticos, such as the ancients used, ought to be made round the piazze, as broad as their columns are high; the use of which is to avoid the rain, snow, and every injury of the air and sun. But all the edifices that are made round a piazza, nor lower than the sixth. And to the porticos one is to ascend by steps, which must be made as high as the fifth part of the length of the columns.

Arches give a very great ornament to piazze that are made at the head of the streets, that is, in the entrance to the piazza; which, how they are to be made, and why they were anciently made, and from whence that they were called triumphal, shall be laid down at large, in my book of arches, and the designs of many shall be inserted. Hence great light will be given to those, that may be willing in our times, or hereafter, to erect arches to princes, to kings, and to emperors.

But, returning to the principal piazza, the palace of the prince, or of the signory (as it happens either to be principality or a republic) ought to be joined thereto, so ought the mint the public treasury, and the prisons.

These last were anciently made of three sorts; the one for those that were debauched and leud, who were kept there in order to their reformation, which now are ordinarily assigned to mad-folks; the second sort was for debtors, and this is still in use among us; the third is where the malefactors, either already condemned, or such as are to be tried, are kept: which three sorts are sufficient, since the errors of men proceed either from immodesty, or from contempt, or from wickedness.

The mint, and the prisons ought to be placed in very secure places, and be very ready at hand, encompassed with high walls, and well guarded against the violence and the treachery of the seditious citizens. The prisons may be made healthy and commodious, because they have been instituted for the safe-keeping and not for the torment and pain of criminals, or of other men; therefore their walls in the middle must be made of very large live stones, bound together with cramps, and with nails of iron or metal, and then coated on both sides with bricks: because, in so doing, the humidity of the live stones will not make them unhealthy, neither will they want for security. Passages must also be made round them; and the rooms for the keepers near, that they may easily hear if the prisoners should contrive anything.

Besides the treasury and the prisons, the curia should be joined to the piazza, which is the place where the senate meets to consult on affairs of state. This must be made of such bigness, as the dignity and number of the citizens shall seem to require; and if it is be square, whatever it shall be in breadth, adding one half more, that shall be its height. But if its form shall be longer than it is broad, the length and breadth must be added together, and the half of the whole sum shall be taken for the height of the roof. In the middle of the height, large cornices ought to be made round the walls, which must project forward, that the voice of those who dispute, may be lost in the height of the curia, but reflected back, the better to come to the ears of the auditors.

On the part facing the warmest region of the heaven, on one side of the piazza, the basilica must be made, that is, the place where justice is administered, whither great part of the people and men of business resort; of which I shall make particular mention, after I have shown how the Greeks and Latins made their piazze, and have given the designs of them.

Chapter XVII Of the Piazze of the Greeks

The Greeks, according to Vitruvius, in the first chapter of the fifth book, ordered the piazze in their cities in a square form, and made ample and double porticos round them, consisting of many columns, that is, one diameter and an half of a column distant the one from the other, or at most two diameters. These porticos were as broad as the columns were long. Hence, as they were double, the place to walk in came to be as broad as twice the length of the column, and therefore many commodious and ample. Upon the first columns, which (with regard to the place where they were) in my opinion, must have been of the Corinthian order, there were other columns, a fourth part less than the first: these had a poggio under them, as thigh as conveniency required; because these upper porticos were also made to walk in, and to discourse, and where people might conveniently be to see the spectacles that might be exhibited in the square, either out of devotion or pleasure. All these porticos ought to be adorned with niches and statues, because the Greeks took great delight in such ornaments. Near to these piazze, although Vitruvius, when he teaches how they were ordered, does not make mention of those places there ought to be the basilica, the curia, the prisons, and all the other places usually joined to piazzas, of which mention has been made before. Besides which (as he says in the seventh chapter of the first book) the ancients used to make near the piazze, the temples consecrated to Mercury and Isis, as to Gods presiding over business and merchandize: an in Pola, a city of Istria, two are to be seen upon the piazze; the one like the other, for form, grandeur, and for ornaments. I have drawn them in the design of these piazze on one side of the basilica. The plan and elevation of which, with all their particular members, shall be seen more distinctly in my book of temples.

  1. The piazza
  2. The double porticos
  3. The basilica where the judges had their tribunal
  4. The temple of Isis
  5. The temple of Mercury
  6. The curia
  7. The portico, and the little court before the mint
  8. The portico, and the little court before the prisons
  9. The door of the atrio, from which one enters the curia
  10. The passages round the curia, through which one comes to the porticos of the piazza
  11. The vault of the porticos of the piazza
  12. The vault of the porticos within
  13. The plan of the walls of the small courts, and of the temples
  14. The passages round the mint and the prisons

The elevation that follows the plan, is one part of the piazza.

Chapter XVIII Of the Piazze of the Romans

The Romans, and the Italians (as Vitruvius says in the above-mentioned place) departing from the custom of the Greeks, made their piazze longer than they were broad; so that the length being divided into three parts, two were given to the breadth, because of the gratuities in them made to the gladiators. This form was more commodious for that purpose than the square one; and for this reason also they made the intercolumniations of the porticos, that were round the piazze, of two diameters and a quarter of a column, or of three diameters, that the sight of the people might not be obstructed by the closeness of the columns. The porticos were as broad as the columns were long, and they had banker’s shops under them. The columns above were made one fourth part less than those below, because the under parts, with respect to the weight they bear, ought to be firmer than those above, as was said in the first book. In the part facing the hottest region of the heaven they placed the basilica, which I have marked in the design of the these piazze, two squares in length; and in the part within there are porticos round it, the third part of the space in the middle in breadth. Their columns are as long as the place is broad, and they may be made of the most acceptable order.

In the part facing the north, I have placed there the curia, one square and an half in length; its height is half the length and breadth put together. This was the place (as I have said above) where the senate met to consult about matters of state.

  1. The winding stairs, void in the middle, which lead to the places above
  2. The passage through which one enters into the porticos of the piazza
  3. Porticos, and the little court on one side of the basilica
  4. The place for the bankers and for the most honourable arts of the city
  5. The place for the bankers and for the most honourable arts of the city
  6. Is the place for the secretaries, whither the deliberations of the senate were remitted
  7. The prisons
  8. Is the return of the porticos of the piazze
  9. The entrance into the basilica, by one side
  10. The return of the porticos that are in the small courts on one side of the basilica

All the said parts are made by a larger scale, and countermarked with the same letters.

The elevation that follows in a large form, is of one part of the porticos of the piazze.

Chapter XIX Of the ancient Basilicas

Formerly those places were called basilicas, in which the judges sat under cover to administer justice, and where sometimes great and important affairs were debated. Hence we read, that the tribunes of the people caused a column to be taken away, which obstructed their seats, from the Basilica Portia (in which justice was administered) that stood near the temple of Romulus and Remus at Rome, and which now the church of San. Cosmo e Damiano. Of all the ancient basilicas, that of Paulus Æmilius was very much celebrated, and reckoned among the marvels of the city. It stood between the temple of Saturn and that of Faustina, on which he spent one thousand five hundred talents, given him by Cæsar, which amount, by computation, to about nine hundred thousand crowns. They thought to be made adjoining to the piazze, as was observed in the abovesaid, which were both in the Forum Romanum and facing the warmest region of the heaven, that the merchants, and those that had law-suits, might in wintertime, without being incommoded by the bad weather, go and remain there without inconvenience. They ought not to be made narrower than one third part, nor wider than the half of the length, if the nature of the place does not hinder it, or if one is not compelled to alter the measure of this compartment.

Of this kind of edifice there is not the least ancient vestigium remaining; wherefore according to what Vitruvius mentions in the above-cited place, I have made the following designs; in which the basilica, in the space in the middle, that is, with the columns, is two squares long.

The porticos that are on the sides, and in the part where the entrance is, are in breadth the third part of the space in the middle. Their columns are as long as they are broad, and may be made of any order one pleases. I have not made a portico in the part opposite to the entrance, because a large nich seems to me to suit there very well, made a segment of a circle less than a semicircle, in which the tribunal of the prætor, or of the judges, may be, if they are many, to which there must be an ascent by steps, that is may have the greater majesty and grandeur. I do not deny, nevertheless, but that porticos may also be made all round them, I have done in the basilicas represented in the designs of the piazze. Through the porticos one goes to the stairs that are on the sides of the said nich, which lead to the upper porticos. These upper porticos have their columns the fourth part less than those below. The poggio, or the pedestal, that is between the upper and lower columns, ought to be made in height one fourth part less than the length of the columns above, and those that walk in the upper porticos, may not be seen by those that do business in the basilica. A basilica at Fano, was ordered by Vitruvius, with other compartments, which by the measures which he gives the said place, one may comprehend to have been an edifice of very great dignity and beauty. I would have inserted the designs of it here, if they had not been done, with the utmost diligence, by the most reverend Barbaro in his Vitruvius.

Of the following designs, the first is the plan, the second part is of the elevation.

Parts of the plan.

  1. The entrance into the basilica
  2. Is the place for the tribunal opposite to the entrance
  3. Are the porticos round it
  4. Are the stairs that lead to the parts above
  5. Are the places for the filth

Parts of the elevation.

  1. The profile of the place, made there to place the tribunal opposite to the entrance
  2. The columns of the porticos below
  3. Is the poggio, in height a fourth part less than the columns of the upper porticos
  4. The columns of the said upper porticos

Chapter XX Of the Basilicas of our times, and of the designs of that of Venice

As the ancients made their basilicas, that men in winter and summer might have a place to assemble, and treat about their occasions and affairs; so in our times in every city, both in Italy and out of it, some public halls are made, which may rightly be called basilicas, because, that near to them is the habitation of the supreme magistrate. Hence they come to be a part of it. [The word basilica properly signifies a royal house.] Here also the judges attended to administer justice to the people.

The basilicas of our times differ in this from the ancients, viz. the ancient ones were upon, or even with the ground, and ours are raised upon arches, in which are shops for diverse arts, and the merchandizes of the city. There the prisons are also made, and other places belonging to public business. Besides which, the modern basilicas have porticos in the part within, as has been seen in the above mentioned designs; and the ancient, on the contrary, either had no porticos, or had them in the part without upon the piazza.

Of these modern halls there is a very noble one at Padoua, a city illustrious for its antiquity, and celebrated for learning throughout the world, in which the gentlemen every day assemble, and it serves them as a covered piazza.

The city of Brescia, magnificent in all her actions, has lately made one for which its largeness and ornaments is wonderful. And another is at Vicenza, of which only I have put the designs, because the porticos it has round it are of my invention; and because I do not doubt but this fabric may be compared with the ancient edifices, and ranked among the most noble, and most beautiful fabrics, that have been made since the ancient times; not only for its grandeur, and its ornaments, but also for the materials, which is all very hard live stone, and all the stones have been joined and banded together, with the utmost diligence. It would be unnecessary to put down the measures of every part, because they are all marked in their places, in the designs.

In the first plate, the plan and elevation are designed, with the plan of the pilasters in a large form.

In the second is designed one part of the elevation in a larger form.

Chapter XXI Of the Palestras and of the Xysti of the Greeks

Having treated of ways, of bridges, and of piazzas, it remains that mention should now be made of those edifices made by the ancient Greeks, into which men went to exercise themselves; and it is very likely that at the time the cities of Greece were governed as a republic, in every city there was one of these edifices; where the young men, besides the learning of sciences, by exercising their bodies in the things belonging to the art of war, such as to know the orders, to throw the bar, to wrestle, to manage their arms, to swim with a weight upon their shoulders, they became fit for action, and for all the accidents of war. Hence they could afterwards, by their valour, and military discipline, though but a few in number, overcome a very numerous army.

The Romans, after their example, had the Campus Martius, in which the youth were publicly exercised in the said military actions, from which proceeded wonderful effects, and their notable victories in battle.

Cæsar writes in his Commentaries, that being on a sudden attacked by the Nervii, and seeing that the seventh and twelfth legion were in a manner so confined, that they could not fight, commanded that they should extend and place themselves one on the flank of the other, that they might have an opportunity of handling their arms, and not be surrounded by the enemies; which being immediately done by the soldiers, he obtained the victory, and they the immoral name of being brave, and well disciplined; since, in the very heat of battle, when things were full of danger and confusion, they performed that, which to many in our times would seem a thing very difficult to be done, even when the enemies are at a distance, and when there is conveniency both of time and place. Of such like glorious actions the Greek and Latin histories are almost full; and there is no doubt that it proceeded from their continual exercising of the young men.

From this exercise, the said places, which (as Vitriuvius relates, in the eleventh chapter of his fifth book) the Greeks built, were by hem called Palestras, and Xisti, and their disposition was this. In the first place they designed the square piazza, two stadia in circumference; that is, of two hundred and fifty paces; and on three sides thereof they made simple porticos, and under them ample halls, in which were the men of letters, such as philosophers, and the like, disputing and discoursing. On the fourth side, which was turned to the south, they made double porticos, that the rains driven by the winds, might not enter them far, in winter; and that the fun might be kept off in summer. In the middle of this portico was a very great hall, one square and an half in length, where the young men were instructed. On the left hand of which, was the place where the girls were instructed; behind that, the place where the wrestlers powdered themselves; and farther on, the rooms for cold washing, or what now we call cold bathing, which comes to be in the turning of the portico. On the left of the place for the young men, was the place where they anointed their bodies, in order to be the stronger; and near to it the cold room, where they undressed themselves; and farther on, the warm room, where they made a fire, from whence one came into the hot room. This room had on one part of it the laconicum, which was the place where they sweated, and on the other the room for hot bathing; because these prudent men were willing to imitate nature, which from an extreme cold, leads gradually to an extreme heat; and that one might not on a sudden, from a the cold room, enter into the hot one, but intermediately through the warm one.

On the outside of the said places there were three porticos, one on the side where the entrance was, which might be made towards the east or west; the other two were, on the right, and the other on the left; one placed towards the north, and the other towards the south. That which faced the north, was double, and in breadth what the columns were long. The other, facing the south, was simple, but much larger than either of the abovesaid, and was divided in this manner: the space of ten foot was left on the side of the columns, and on that of the wall, which space is by Vitruvius called the margin; by two steps six foot broad, one descended into a floor, not less than twelve foot in breadth, in which, during the winter season, the wrestlers might exercise themselves under cover, without being interrupted by those that stood under the portico to look on; who also, by reason of the said lowness of the place where the wrestlers were, could see better.

This portico was properly called Xistus. The Xisti were so made, that between two porticos there might be groves and plantations, and the streets between the trees paved with mosaic work.

Near the Xistus, and the double portico, the covered places to walk in were designed, by them called Peridromis; in which, in winter, when the sky was serene, the wrestlers might exercise themselves. The stadium was on one side of this edifice, and was the place where the multitude could stand commodiously to see the wrestlers engage.

From this kind of edifices the Roman Emperors took example, who ordered the baths to delight and please the people, as being places where men went to recreate and wash themselves; of which in the following book I shall treat, God willing.

  1. The place where the boys were instructed
  2. The place where the girls were instructed
  3. The pace where the wrestlers powdered themselves
  4. The cold bath
  5. The Place where wrestlers anointed themselves
  6. The cold room
  7. The warm room, through which one proceeds to the furnace
  8. The hot room, called the sweating room
  9. The laconicum
  10. The hot bath
  11. The outward portico before the entrance
  12. The outward portico towards the north
  13. The outward portico towards the south, where in the winter season the wrestlers exercised themselves, called Xistus
  14. The groves between two porticos
  15. The uncovered places to walk in, called Peridoromis
  16. Stadium, where the multitude stood to see the wrestlers engage
  17. The east
  18. The south
  19. The west
  20. The north

The other places made in the design are escdre and schools.