Saturday, February 21, 2015



1578/80 by Ottaviano Nonni aka Ottaviano Mascherino (1524/1606) for Gregory XIII Boncompagni (1572/85)
It is 120 m (394 feet) long

Ottaviano Mascherino also built the TORRE DEI VENTI (Tower of the Winds) visible from the gardens and from the Courtyard of the Pine Cone
It was built above the Gallery of Maps corresponding to the entrance area from the Gallery of Tapestries

From the Tower of the Winds astronomical observations were made that led to the replacement of the previously used Julian Calendar with the one still used in most of the world today, called Gregorian calendar in honor of Gregory XIII
Easter would thus coincide again with the day decided by the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD being the first Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox. From October 4, 1582 ten days were skipped going directly to October 15 to address the extra 11 minutes and 14 seconds a year that by 1582 had created a difference of 10 days

Catholic peoples adopted the Gregorian Calendar immediately and Protestants in the eighteenth century. In 1873 it was the turn of Japan and in 1911 of China
Russia was convinced in 1918, so that the “October Revolution” of 1917 would have been the “November Revolution” for us as it happened on 7 and 8 November in the Gregorian calendar
Yugoslavia, Romania and other Orthodox countries started using the Gregorian Calendar in 1919, Turkey in 1927 and Greece, the last to accept the reform, in 1928

“The tradition of geographical representations well attested in many Renaissance courts is profoundly renewed: contemporaries had to remain open-mouthed before a decorative project that allowed the pope, after the long journey into space through an Italy supported and guided by Christian faith and the Roman Church, to reach the Tower of the Winds, where the anemoscope and the meridian of Danti seemed to exert a similar symbolic control over time, letting one's gaze wander freely on the Latium countryside and ideally on the whole Catholic world, released by the great religious crisis of mid-century confirmed in its convictions” (Vincenzo Farinella)


“Fifty scenes of miraculous events of saints” related to the geographical areas below (from the entrance: Sts. John the Baptist, Paul, Sylvester I, Pope Leo the Great, Benedict, Severus, Romualdo, Bernard, Peter Damian and Celestine V) and “Twenty-four monochrome scenes of Old Testament stories of sacrifice” 1580/83 by Cesare Nebbia (1536/1614) based on drawings by Girolamo Muziano (1532/92) with the help of many artists including:

Antonio Tempesta (about 1555/1630), the brothers Paul Brill (1554/1626) and Matthijs Brill (1550/83) and Niccolò Circignani aka Pomarancio (about 1520/98)


“Forty maps of Italy” 1580/83 designed and laid out by the Dominican Father Egnazio Danti (1536/86

Painted by Cesare Nebbia (1536/1614), Girolamo Muziano (1532/92), Niccolò Circignani aka Pomarancio (about 1520/98), Giovanni Antonio Vanosino (1535/93) and the brother of Egnazio, Girolamo Danti, who died in 1580 soon after work began. Giovanni Baglione in 1642 erroneously reported the name of Girolamo as Antonio

The name of Egnazio Danti at birth was Carlo Pellegrino changed aged 19 on the occasion of his entrance in the Dominican order
He was one of the most distinguished scholars in mathematics and geography of his time and he had worked as a cartographer and cosmographer for Cosimo I de' Medici in Florence
He also had an important role in the commission authority that changed the calendar. His signature appears in the inscription of Salento

The maps are represented with the east coast on the right and the west coast to the left
 They are sufficiently accurate even if several have the north at the bottom and the scale is not homogeneous
The more precise areas are the Po Valley, Liguria, Tuscany and the Papal provinces. Less precise are the mountainous areas and islands

There are interesting representations of battles such as Cannae in 216 BC or Lepanto in 1571, or celebrities like Christopher Columbus carried on the marine chariot of Neptune off Liguria or “special transports” as the obelisk of Psammetichus II on a Roman raft later to be placed in Montecitorio

Six maps (Italia antiqua, Italia nova, Patrimonium Sancti Petri, Latium, Etruria and Sabina) were restored or rebuilt by Luca Holstenio (1596/1661) in the years 1632/37 for Urban VIII Barberini (1623/44) who also spread everywhere the bees of his coat of arms

Other adjustments took place under the pontificates of Clement XI Albani (1700/21) and Pius IX Mastai-Ferretti (1846/78)

“Italy was unified well before Cavour and Garibaldi played the big chance. The Country was unified not by politics but by history, culture, beauty, religion. For the first time in the catalog of the visual arts in the heart of the Apostolic Palace, this idea of​ unity takes shape so aware to remain unforgettable. For the first time it is offered to the wonder of the world with glorious and at the same time educational evidence” (Antonio Paolucci)

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