Imago Urbis: Giuseppe Vasi's Grand Tour of Rome

About this Website

Vasi’s Grand Tour presents an innovative geographic database (geo-database) and website that references the work of two 18th century masters of Roman topography: Giambattista Nolli (1701-1756), who published the first accurate map of Rome (La Pianta Grande di Roma, 1748); and his contemporary and collaborator, Giuseppe Vasi (1710-1782), whose comprehensive documentation of the city and its monuments, especially in Delle Magnificenze di Roma antica a moderna, published from 1747-1761, establishes him as one of Rome’s great topographers. Both Nolli and Vasi excelled at describing Rome in geo-spatial terms, one through scientific measurements and the ichnographic plan, the other through careful observation within a pictorial tradition which relied on scientific perspective. Our research which treats the relationship between their work represents a two year effort (2005-2007) made possible through a Getty Foundation Grant: “Cartography as Imago Urbis: Giuseppe Vasi’s Grand Tour of Rome”. This project builds on previous efforts that generated the Interactive Nolli Map Website published in 2005, dedicated to Nolli’s map (

Vasi’s Grand Tour places the work of these two masters in their cultural context: 18th century Rome and the Age of the Grand Tour. It examines the cartographic and artistic legacy that they inherited. It gives an account of Nolli’s work in light of this context but especially focuses on the vedustismo tradition and its impact on the work of Vasi and his contribution to the vedute genre. Over two hundred and forty of Vasi’s topographic prints are presented in detail and in relationship to Nolli’s map. Vasi’s work and methods are subsequently interpreted through an analysis of their topographic, artistic, and historic content.

Statement of Problem
Given that Nolli and Vasi were contemporaries and collaborators focusing on the same subject, it seems obvious that their work is intrinsically related; up to now no vehicle existed to effectively synthesize their individual achievements into a single resource that effectively evokes Settecento Rome. We believe that it will be extremely informative to place these 18th century documents into their 21st century context so that spatial relationships can be drawn and new conclusions reached about their continuing significance to the understanding of the city. Our overarching objective is to document and integrate two distinct graphic modes for representing the Eternal City: the pictorial view and the ichnographic plan. In concert, we believe they can present a compelling image of the city and in the process inform and inspire its study.

Jim Tice, Erik Steiner, Allan Ceen, and Dennis Beyer
Department of Architecture and InfoGraphics Lab, Department of Geography, University of Oregon
Copyright © 2008 University of Oregon. All rights reserved.
This website was made possible by a 2006-2007 grant from
The Getty Foundation.