2023 IAS Research and Publication Grant

Katherine Coty (University of Washington)

Maniera Etrusca: Gardens, Vernacular Landscape, and Regional Identity in Sixteenth Century Tuscia

Tuscia, a volcanic region of central Italy between Florence and Rome, is home to a veritable cohort of interrelated designed landscapes, which until now had never received their own comprehensive study. While sites like Villa Farnese in Caprarola and the Sacro Bosco of Bomarzo are familiar to scholars of the Italian Renaissance—figuring prominently in studies of central Italian villeggiatura—our understanding of these gardens has ultimately remained divorced from their surrounding cultural and topographical landscape. The current project, Maniera Etrusca: Gardens, Vernacular Landscape, and Regional Identity in Sixteenth Century Tuscia, is an in-depth, all-encompassing examination which puts the region’s well-known designed landscapes in dialogue with more obscure sites like Parco degli Orsini in Pitigliano and Villa Cornelia outside Viterbo. When approached as a whole, these many designed landscapes show that sixteenth century Tuscians were engaged in a larger conversation regarding garden culture, provincial style, and early Etruscology. This project views these sites through the lens of Tuscia’s rock-cut vernacular architecture, not only revealing them to be products of a regional renascence which drew upon local Etruscan heritage rather than the world of ancient Rome, but also challenging our understandings of what Renaissance Italians knew about ancient Etruria. Through this rebirth of Tuscia’s characteristic rupestrian vernacular, we see the rise of a uniquely autochthonous school of landscape architecture that spoke to a burgeoning sense of local identity which was closely connected to both the region’s topography and how its inhabitants lived within it.

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