Walking its dramatic boulevards and strolling through its preserved monuments, it’s hard to imagine Rome as anything other than glorious. But from the fall of Rome until a couple hundred years ago, Rome was mostly notable for its overwhelming appearance of decay. One man, more than perhaps any other, captured that decay over and over in his art and in doing so, captivated worldwide audiences. The art of Piranesi drew travelers again and again to the Eternal City and sparked a desire to restore her dignity.
Given Rome’s centrality to travel today, it’s fitting that the latest selection for Just Booked, our series on gorgeous new travel-related coffee table books, is Taschen’s latest tome, Piranesi. The Complete Etchings by Luigi Ficacci.
Flipping through the book, one is struck not only by the romance of Piranesi’s etchings but also how much of his work and life was devoted to an exacting approach to architectural theory and practice. For every time-travel-wanderlust-inducing scene of a dandy wandering through ruins by the Pantheon, there are dozens of pages of detailed drawings of column styles, mantles, decorative objects, altars, and cross-sections of buildings and tombs. A book that gives you exactly what you hoped, with a few surprises too.