Alberti, Leandro (1479-1552). Descrittione di tutta Italia.... Bologna, Anselmo Giaccarelli, January 1550.

Alberti, Leandro (1479-1552). Descrittione di tutta Italia.... Bologna, Anselmo Giaccarelli, January 1550.

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Alberti, Leandro (1479-1552).

Descrittione di tutta Italia... nella quale si contiene il sito di essa, l’origine, & le signorie delle città , & delle castella, co i nomi antichi e moderni... Et piu gli huomini famosi che l’hanno illustrata, i monti, i laghi, i fiumi....

Bologna, Anselmo Giaccarelli, January 1550.

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Alberti, Leandro (1479-1552).

Descrittione di tutta Italia... nella quale si contiene il sito di essa, l’origine, & le signorie delle città , & delle castella, co i nomi antichi e moderni... Et piu gli huomini famosi che l’hanno illustrata, i monti, i laghi, i fiumi....Bologna, Anselmo Giaccarelli, January 1550.

Two parts in one volume, folio (287x193 mm). Collation: [π]4, A8, B-Ζ6, Aa-Zz6, AAA-ZZZ6, AAAA-IIII6; a-d6, e4. [4], VII (lacking blank A8), 9-469 (lacking fol. IIII6 blank), [28] leaves. Roman and italic type. Woodcut printer's device on the title-page. Woodcut author's portrait on fol. [π]4v, numerous woodcut animated initials. Eighteenth-century vellum over pasteboards. Smooth spine, title in gilt. Edges mottled red and blue. A good copy, title and first leaves slightly browned and spotted, especially at the gutter, old marginal repair to fol. Oo1; waterstain at the beginning and in the middle of the volume, inner margin of the last leaf reinforced, a little hole repaired in the same leaf with the loss of a few letters. Some early marginal notes.

First edition – in its first issue bearing in the preliminary quire the author's portrait and verses by Giovanni Philoteo Achillini – dedicated to Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici. This important historical, artistic, and geographical guide was composed by the Dominican from Bologna Leandro Alberti, who travelled widely throughout Italy and in 1536 was named vicar of Santa Sabina in Rome. Despite its great size, the work became immensely popular, and was read and referenced until the late eighteenth century by many foreign travellers embarking upon the Grand Tour. Alberti's Descrittione has an encyclopaedic character, and its reliance upon earlier antiquarian works – above all Flavio Biondo's influential Italia illustrata – is profound. At the same time, the Descrittione also reflects his individual experience as a traveller across Italy and contains numerous personal reflections and observations, including a brief reference to Vespucci's New World voyage. Furthermore, Alberti consulted Biondo's remarkable library and requested information from all major Italian scholars of his time who in turn answered enthusiastically; among his correspondents, the names of Paolo Giovio and Andrea Alciati stand out. Alberti's work quickly found an eager audience all over Europe, as evinced by its early presence in most of the academic libraries in Northern Europe. The enduring international impact of Alberti's work is also shown in its use by cartographers like Ortelius and Quad in their mapping and description of the Italian peninsula.

After the first printing in 1550, ten more editions of the Descrittione appeared between 1551 and 1631.

STC Italian 14; Harrisse no. 302; A. Pescarzoli, I libri di viaggio e le guide della raccolta Luigi Vittorio Fossati Bellani, Roma 1957, I, no. 284; F. Govi, I classici che hanno fatto l'Italia, Modena 2010, no. 87; G. Petrella, L'officina del geografo: la 'Descrittione di tutta Italia' di Leandro Alberti e gli studi geografico-antiquari tra Quattro e Cinquecento, Milano 2004; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 110.

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