A cultivated patrician, a prolific playwright, and a passionate student of local antiquity, Francesco Ignazio Lazzari (1634–1717) was a mainstay of the artistic and intellectual life of Città di Castello, an Umbrian city that maintained a remarkable degree of cultural autonomy during the early modern period. He was also the first author to identify the correct location of the lost villa “in Tuscis” owned by the Roman writer and statesman Pliny the Younger and known through his celebrated description. Lazzari’s reconstruction of this ancient estate, in the form of a large-scale drawing and a textual commentary, adds a unique document to the history of Italian gardens while offering a fascinating perspective on the role of landscape in shaping his native region’s identity.
Published with an English translation for the first time since its creation, this manuscript is framed by the scholarly contributions of Anatole Tchikine and Pierre de la Ruffinière du Prey. At the core of their discussion is the interplay of two distinct ideas of antiquity—one embedded in the regional landscape and garden culture of Umbria and the other conveyed by the international tradition of Plinian architectural reconstructions—that provide the essential context for understanding Lazzari’s work.