Borgo Pio
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This month In Italy Online features a wonderful book that recently came to our attention. It's the kind of in-depth study of a neighborhood that will fascinate anyone who loves Rome.
Regarding the Borgo Pio
An Architectural View of a Renaissance Street in Rome
Martha Sutherland
Fayetteville: The University of Arkansas Press
80 pages, 43 illustrations
Publication Date: April 1996
Price: $35.00 cloth 

The Via di Borgo Pio is a teeming and colorful street just outside the Vatican, running between Saint Peter's Basilica and the ancient tomb of Hadrian, now called the Castel Sant' Angelo. The district has been at the center of Rome's life for millennia and has been the setting for many dramas, including one of Nero's revels in which hundreds of Christians were crucified or burned. Born of papal fiat in 1562, it has retained its essential character ever since as a vital, merchant-class enclave of the city. However, modern pressures on the district and a gentrification of aging structures are now forcing dislocations of families and businesses. Thus, the Borgo Pio could soon lose its historic character as a distinct neighborhood.
In documenting the street's history, life, and architecture with drawings and narrative, Sutherland has attempted to capture the spirit of the street before its inevitable change. Regarding the Borgo Pio includes pencil renderings of doorways and decorative elements and a set of detailed elevation sketches of all the street's buildings made on the spot in the summer of 1992. Two maps done in the style of sixteenth-century woodcuts are exceptional pieces of artwork. Several maps locate the district within Rome and illustrate how the borgo changed over the centuries, and an appendix contains an inventory of the street's addresses and describes the types of businesses found there.

Beautifully produced, Regarding the Borgo Pio becomes a visual celebration of a threatened way of life and an architecture influenced and molded by generations of residents, the Catholic Church, and the long and turbulent history of western Europe.

Martha Sutherland is associate professor of architecture at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Supported in this work by a grant from the Graham Foundation, she has authored several other books, including two editions of Lettering for Architects and Designers.

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