EVENT: The ‘Civitas Pia’ of Pope Pius IV (1561-1565)
Permittitur tamen - Itâ€™s Ok to Grow Artichokes There.
The â€˜Civitas Piaâ€™ of Pope Pius IV (1561-1565)
A public lecture by Roger Vella Bonavita, Honorary Senior Research Fellow, The University of Western Australia
The Medici Pope Pius IV (1559-1565) built the suburb now called Borgo Pio (originally named Civitas Pia) and the third enceinte of Castel S. Angelo, also completing the enceinte around the Vatican (unfinished since 1532). He also planned to replace Aurelianâ€™s ancient walls (18 kilometres long) around Rome with gunpowder fortifications.
Capitano Francesco Laparelli da Cortona, a brilliant but obscure Tuscan engineer, was put in charge of these projects by his patron and friend Gabrio Serbelloni; a nephew of Pius IV, governor of Rome, and superintendent of the fortifications in the papal states who was himself a distinguished soldier and military engineer. The role of the pope himself, even in technical discussions, is important too. These projects must be seen in the context of the crying need for up to date defences to enable the papacy to maintain its independence against pressures from Spain (and France).
This illustrated public lecture will highlight the fascinating story of the preparation of the new urban area: which involved levelling the site, demolishing the ninth century church of S. Maria Traspontina and its adjacent Carmelite monastery besides laying out the streets, sewers, water supply and civic buildings and finally the building regulations promulgated by Pius IV for his Civitas Pia in the Bull Romanorum decet Pontificem (August 1565), which for very good reasons specifically permitted the cultivation of artichokes outside the walls of the new city.
Pius sent Laparelli to Malta in November 1565 to assist the Order of St John after it survived a four month siege by the Ottoman Turks. There he designed and built a new fortified capital called Valletta.
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