10/01/2010 - 11/01/2010

Built in 1637 by the Bolognese architect Antonio Paolucci, detto Levanti, the theater is constructed of fir and was designed to provide a space for the study of the anatomy of the human body. A cello-shaped marble slab in the center of the room would have supported the specimen, while benches rising in three rows around the room allowed medical students to view the procedure. 
 
The professor lectured students from a baldaquin supported by slightly disturbing flayed telamons at the rear of the room while an assistant performed the operation. The theater is surrounded by sculptures of great physicians from history including Galan, Hippocrates and the Bolognese Gaspare Tagliacozzi depicted holding a human nose (in the corner by the window below).

Medicine in the 17th century revolved around the belief that the body was composed of a harmony of separate humours. If these humours became imbalanced, the body, like a musical instrument, would fall out of tune.
Medicine was seen as a retuning of the harmony of the body, depending not only on the conditions of the case, such as air, water and specific circumstances, but on the celestial music of the heavens. Thus, the complex astrological information surrounding a patient's birth could directly influence his cure. The astrological signs are depicted above the theater in the coffers of the ceiling surrounding Apollo the god of healing.

The Villa Rotunda from S. Maria di Monte Berico in early morning.
 
A section of the inclined arcade leading up to S. Maria di Monte Berico. While this arcade is nowhere near as dramatically long or baroque as the one leading to La Madonna di S. Luca outside of Bologna (expect a post soon), it is quite spectacular.  

 The Villa Rotunda on a beautiful October morning.

The library was founded in 1604 by the Augustinians whose church, San Agostino, is right next door. The library holds the record as the first public library in Italy and can still be accessed by practically anyone. It houses a large collection of early manuscripts including the Codex Angelicus, a Byzantine New Testament. The reading room is quite beautiful with ambient light reflected off the ceiling from the upper windows and the shelves reaching all the way up to the beginning of the groin vaulted ceiling. Two tiers of precarious little walkways encircling the room ad are accessed by spiral staircases hidden in the walls behind doors painted to look like laden book cases. The lower windows are usually left open, so that one can see up from the street to the stacks of books and those inside can hear the bustle of the surrounding city.

Biblioteca Angelica

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Friday, October 15, 2010



I was very confused for a few seconds when I first saw this bike.

One of the most Roman of Roman palazzi, this palace was designed for Asdrubale Mattei by Carlo Maderno at the beginning of the seventeenth century. The cortile is plastered with antique reliefs and busts integrated into the design by Maderno. The building now houses the Institute for American Studies... The first book pulled off one of the beautiful book shelves proved to be, "American Supremacy:  Correcting the Misuse of American Power"... 







Palazzo Mattei

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Architecture embodies the ideal of the republican polity by civilizing the activity of commerce in the service of politics. The trading settlement may be a market but it is not of necessity a city. Only with the establishment of laws under the aegis of political wisdom can the settlement be organized to harness the prosperity of commerce. In so doing the city provides a place not only for the pursuit of sustenance, but of excellence. European (and by extension) American market halls are formally linked to the stoa, forum, basilica, loggia, exchange, and bourse, in that they provide a covered place to transact business within an ordered framework. Polities organize such spaces in order to assure a just commerce. In return the market takes care of the material needs of the city, and in the best cases, promotes the city’s prosperity. Without prosperity the city cannot achieve its end. Insofar as nature is composed of stable, unchanging classes of things, including those of human activity, architecture is capable of clarifying the structure of the city. Through the judicious use of the orders, the depiction of famous narratives of the city, and its overall suitability, architecture can provide a comprehensible framework conducive to the pursuit of the good life. Architecture thus functions rhetorically by embodying and explaining the order of the city by its imitation of nature. In the Western city, with economic freedom closely connected with urban life, the market and the polity are architecturally linked. The market hall is the heart or center of the city. It is in the building provided to house the public market that architecture in republican polities most significantly holds up the ideal of the good life lived in community and embodies the struggle between what is and what ought to be.