The Pennsylvania State University
Cover for the book “When All of Rome Was Under Construction”

“When All of Rome Was Under Construction”

The Building Process in Baroque Rome Dorothy Metzger Habel
  • Copyright: 2013
  • Dimensions: 9 x 10
  • Page Count: 248 pages
  • Illustrations: 118 b&w illustrations/1 map
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-05573-2

Hardcover Edition: $103.95

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Publication of this book has been aided by a grant from the Millard Meiss Publication Fund of the College Art Association

‘When All of Rome Was Under Construction’ will take its place among the most important and substantial contributions to architectural scholarship and Roman Baroque urban history in a very long time. It traces and vitalizes our understanding of individual and institutional interests in Roman architecture in a way that has been hardly, if ever, equaled. Dorothy Habel’s research makes the study of Roman Baroque urbanism more engaging and pertinent than ever before. This is benchmark scholarship.”
“Habel lays out for us the key decade in the modern development of the piazza, along with revealing glimpses behind the scenes of various other projects, in this richly documented and closely argued book.”
“Any reader who loves Rome, studies the early modern period in art history, and holds dear the history of architecture will find much to admire in Dorothy Metzger Habel’s study of construction and urban planning in seventeenth-century Rome. ‘When All of Rome Was Under Construction’: The Building Process in Baroque Rome digs deep into archival records to tell compelling stories about how the building trades functioned and who got to boss whom around, along with what were the obstacles, snags, and goals faced by those who helped to shape baroque Rome.”

In “When All of Rome Was Under Construction,” architectural historian Dorothy Metzger Habel considers the politics and processes involved in building the city of Rome during the baroque period. Like many historians of the period, Habel previously focused on the grand schemes of patronage; now, however, she reconstructs the role of the “public voice” in the creation of the city. She presents the case that Rome’s built environment did not merely reflect the vision of patrons and architects who simply imposed buildings and spaces upon the city’s populace. Rather, through careful examination of a tremendous range of archival material—from depositions and budgets to memoranda and the minutes of confraternity meetings—Habel foregrounds what she describes as “the incubation of architecture” in the context of such building projects as additions to the Palazzo Doria-Pamphili and S. Carlo ai Catinari as well as the construction of the Piazza Colonna. She considers the financing of building and the availability of building materials and labor, and she offers a fresh investigation of the writings of Lorenzo Pizzatti, who called attention to “the social implications” of building in the city. Taken as a whole, Habel’s examination of these voices and buildings offers the reader a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the shape and the will of the public in mid-seventeenth-century Rome.

Dorothy Metzger Habel is Distinguished Professor of the Humanities and Professor of Art History at the University of Tennessee.


List of Illustrations



Units of Measure and Monetary Values


1 The Urban Redevelopment of Piazza Colonna I: “Senza Spesa Ne Aggravare Alcuno”

2 The Urban Redevelopment of Piazza Colonna II: “Il Negotio Restava Aggiustato”

3 The Repercussions of Building Piazza S. Pietro “in Tempo Che Tutta Roma Era in Fabrica”

4 Lorenzo Pizzatti and His “Roza Riforma”: A Pavonazzo Speaks Up “Tutto per il Ben Publico”





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