A critical edition of Bartolomeo Taegio's “La Villa”
Bartolomeo Taegio's La Villa, a sixteenth-century treatise in dialogue form on the idea of the villa, is a precious source of Renaissance theory that has never been published in any language other than its original Italian. The dual purpose of this critical edition is to make the text of La Villa accessible to English-speaking scholars in the fields of architecture and landscape architecture, and to contextualize it as a basis for interpretation and evaluation. The first part of this purpose is accomplished by an English translation augmented with notes in which more than forty references to literary sources in La Villa are identified, and with indices containing more than 280 names of people and places mentioned in the dialogue. The second goal is met by the Introduction, which provides information in three broad areas: Taegio's life and literary activity; political, economic, social, agricultural and horticultural conditions; and the role of La Villa in the context of classical and Renaissance villa literature. By means of contextualization, the Introduction illuminates Taegio's intellectual obligations to his literary sources, and his relationship to the forces at work in his culture. It also demonstrates the enduring relevance of La Villa for architecture and landscape architecture. While it is not a gardening treatise, La Villa reflects an aesthetic appreciation of land in the Renaissance, reveals the symbolic and metaphorical significance of sixteenth-century gardens for their owners, and articulates a specific idea about the interaction of nature and culture in the garden. Although it does not deal with the art of building, La Villa makes a valuable contribution to the body of literature about place-making, precisely because it treats the villa as an idea and not as a building type.