Guided tours of Rome, courtesy of Palladio

The 16th century architect whose revival of classic design continues to affect how buildings are built even today, was something of a tourguide in his spare time. He wrote two books on Rome — one about the ancient city and one about the churches — which have just been translated, illustrated and published in handy pocket-sized format by Mssrs. Vaughan Hart and Peter Hicks and Yale University Press.

The New York Times review has me salivating.

“It is as if Palladio — ever the architect — is rehearsing the original laying-out of the great city,” write Mr. Hart and Mr. Hicks in their helpful introduction. (They have also added dozens of period drawings and contemporary photographs, whereas the originals were not illustrated.)

Palladio spices up the tour with remarks on the history and mores of the ancients. “No citizen was considered wealthy unless he could personally finance the army for one year,” he claims in an entry on rich Romans. Two pages later, he is telling us about the three ways that men could dissolve a marriage.

Mmm... Pre-order...

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