The Studium Urbis opened in the fall of 2000 as a research center on the urban development of Rome and other cities in Italy. In 2003 it sponsored an international conference in Rome: Giambattista Nolli, Imago Urbis, and Rome. In December of each year an exhibition on a Roman subject is displayed in the studio’s premises. Visiting groups from U.S. universities frequently visit the studio to view these exhibitions, and/or to attend alecture on some aspect of the city.

The Studium Urbis is located in the heart of Rome on the Via di Montoro 24 (near Piazza Farnese and Piazza Navona), and houses an exhibition gallery, workshop studio, and an extensive collection of reference resources on Rome, composed of historic maps, prints and books. These resources are available to scholars and qualified students working in, or visiting the city.

Allan Ceen Portrait


Allan Ceen studied at Columbia (B.A.) and University of Pennsylvania (M.A., Ph.D.), served 2 years in the US Army Engineers, moved to Italy in 1959, taught at the Overseas School of Rome, then for the Rome programs of Cornell, RPI, Pratt, and for the last 20 years for the Pennsylvania State University’s Rome program. In 2000 he opened the Studium Urbis as a research center on Rome’s topography and urban development. His publications include The Quartiere de’Banchi, Rome 1748, various articles and contributions to catalogs, and 10 catalogs for annual exhibitions held at the Studium Urbis. Currently publishing Roma Traversata: tracing historic pathways through the city.


Since its inauguration in the year 2000, each December the Studium Urbis has organized a small exhibition on a topic about the city of Rome. Subjects of these exhibitions range from the history of maps of Rome and their authors to the city’s contemporary urban problems. Emphasis is placed on the visual illustration of the topic, using prints, maps, photographs and drawings. A short illustrated catalog, published in-house, accompanies each exhibition, and is available upon request.

Roma Rossiniana
June 2016


19th Century views of Rome by Luigi Rossini

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Roma Pontificata
December 2015


The ancient bridges of Rome

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Roma Bufaliniana
December 2012


The first complete plan of Rome

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Roma Piranesiana
December 2011


Piranesi’s plans of Rome

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Roma 1849
December 2009

ROMA 1849

Garibaldi and the city

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Roma Ingombrata
December 2008


The cluttered city

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Roma Cambiata I
December 2007


Early 20th century photographs published by Ernesto Richter

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Roma Geodetica
December 2006


I luoghi per la Misura

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Roma Ripercorsa
December 2005


Redefining lost urban connections

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Roma Cancellata
December 2004


Public areas inaccessible to the public

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Memoria di un Artista
December 2003


Albert Ceen 1903-2003: Celebrazione per il Centenario della nascita

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Roma Nolliana
June 2003


Exhibit for the Nolli Conference organized by the Studium Urbis in June 2003

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December 2002


Italy’s Prime Meridian

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December 2001


Master plans and the expansion of Rome 1870-2000

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Roma Delineata
December 2000


1748-1870: Ichnographic plans of the city

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In addition to housing an extensive library of books, prints and maps of Rome the Studium Urbis is frequently used as a small lecture hall whose walls are lined with originals and reproductions of the actual prints and maps used in the lectures. Upon request individual lectures on Roman urbanism, cartography and architectural history are given at the Studium Urbis (capacity 30 seats) to U.S. university groups visiting Rome. Some of the lectures are associated with specific walks through the city, which can be scheduled for different days. Requests for subjects not listed in the table below require an anticipated time of four weeks.

TITLESUBJECT (when not explained in the title)
1551: Bufalini's Exploration of RomeCartographic deductions
Acqua Virgo GreenwayTracing the Acqua Virgo through modern Rome
AlbanoCastrum to modern town
Archaeological Park or Urban Desert?The Forum/Palatine area
Area Sacra ArgentinaLargo Argentina and its urban history
Asymmetry in SymmetryNon-alignment of symmetrical designs
BanchiThe Quartiere de' Banchi and its Trivium
Barbey 1697G.B. Nolli's immediate predecessor
Baroque Ovals & Urban Form
Baroque Urban Planning
BorgateDumping grounds for the undesirables
Bufalini 1551: Distortion & Rectification
Bufalini and the Imago Urbis
CelioTopography of an urban triangle
Civitatis PiaePius IV Medici's Borgo Pio
Descriptio UrbisUrban development of Rome through historic maps
Forma Urbis3c. Marble map of Rome
Forum ChronologyRoman Forum images
GarbatellaHousing for the dispossessed
Individuality of the StreetRoute maps by PSU students
Medieval StreetsReconstructions based on Nolli
Monumental vs. UrbanContrasting approaches to urban studies
Nolli as an Instrument of Urban Analysis
Nolli Map, The
Piazza S. PietroAxes, Alignments & Asymmetry
Piazza di SpagnaEvolution of an urban space
PincioStory of a parking garage battle
Porta LeoneA vanished Renaissance neighborhood
Possesso1655: Alexander VII Chigi's processianal print
Renaissance Planning and Via Papale
Roman Towns
Roman ViewsDrawings, paintings & prints of Rome
Termini: Transformation of a SiteFrom suburban villa to railroad station
TriviumsForm and adaptation in Renaissance planning
Una Roma VisualeNolli and Vasi
Urban ReciprocityStreet/building Interactions
Urban setting of the PantheonReconstruction of the ancient street net
Vasi and Public SpaceStudies in the Magnificenze
Via della ConciliazioneThe destruction of Borgo
Villa AdrianaHadrian's Villa near Tivoli
Villa BorgheseHistory of a park
Leonardo to DesarguesProjective Geometry


The purpose of this section is to provide scholars and students interested in the urban development of the city with the historic maps and their eventual elaborations. Higher resolution images and permission to use them may be obtained by emailing a request to the Studium Urbis (studiumurbis@gmail.com).


The Bufalini plan-map of the city of Rome (Figure 1) is the first orthogonal plan of the city since the early third century Forma Urbis. All earlier 14th and 15th century images of the city were view-maps. It is surprising that no plan-map of the city appears until this late in the Renaissance, since the technique was known and used in such earlier plans of other towns such as Leonardo’s plan of Imola which dates from about 1500.

The Bufalini plan is distorted, understandably so, because it is the first of a series which culminate in the highly accurate Nolli map of 1748. A distortion grid (Figure 2) reveals the uneven distortion of the map. The rectification was made by tracing the Bufalini information over the 12 sheets of the large Nolli map (Figure 3). This was done by Allan Ceen in 1988-1989 as a senior fellow at CASVA (Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts in the National Gallery, Washington DC).

Figure 4 is the second of the twelve sheets which constitute the whole redrawn Bufalini map. By leaving the Nolli plan visible below the darker lines (corresponding to the Bufalini), one obtains an instantaneous idea of the development of the Piazza del Popolo trivium over the two centuries that elapsed between Bufalini and Nolli. Bufalini’s “Orti” (gardens), between Via del Corso and Via del Babuino, have been replaced by Nolli’s time with an irregular grid of streets, and Piazza di Spagna has evolved out of the acute-angled intersection of two streets into a bow-tie shaped open space.


Tempesta’s was a new kind of viewmap remarkable for its rendering the whole city in a sort of tilted perspective view taken from the Janiculum hill. Unlike its 16th century predecessors (eg. Bufalini and Duperac) which were approximate squares, the Tempesta map is a long horizontal rectangle, with consequent compression on the vertical axis.

The orientation of the map is east, but this orientation is not consistent because the Borgo has been cranked into a north-south direction instead east-west which is its true orientation. There appear to be two reasons for this: to fit Borgo into the overall rectangular shape of the map, and to show St. Peter’s and its piazza from the side rather than from the rear. The map is rich in detail, but the dense street net in the foreground is more detailed than the distant, emptier part of the city. The map was updated in 1662 and in 1693 editions.

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This is one of the very few plan maps of Rome published between Bufalini (1551) and Nolli (1748). It is something of a hybrid because while most of the city is shown in plan, some major buildings are drawn in three dimensions (eg. Colosseum, Campidoglio complex). Curiously St. Peter’s is shown in plan while the adjacent Belvedere courtyard is drawn three-dimensionally.

Like most of its predecessors the map is oriented east and has the same general proportions as its contemporary small Falda map and the later large Falda map. Considerable attention is given to the layout of gardens and villas, an element that was picked up by Nolli in the following century.

View Map

FALDA 1676

Falda’s is probably the most successful of the long succession view-maps (as opposed to plan-maps) of the city. Its 16th century predecessors, especially Cartaro, Duperac and Tempesta, provided many useful details of streets and buildings, but their accuracy was very limited. The same can be said about the huge 1625 Maggi view-map.

The way Falda obtained far greater accuracy is revealed in the title of the map: NUOVA PIANTA ET ALZATA DELLA CITTA DI ROMA. Falda started with a straight 2-dimensional plan (PIANTA) of the city, on which he showed buildings in 3 dimensions (ALZATA means “elevation”). Successive updates of the Falda map (1705 and 1730) makes it a useful tool for studying the city’s urban development in that period.

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The 1551 Bufalini map was acknowledged by Giambattista Nolli as the precursor to his Grande Pianta of Rome. However the 1697 plan of the city by Antonio Barbey was the immediate predecessor of Nolli’s map, and exerted considerable influence on his work. The Barbey plan is perhaps the clearest and most informative image of the contemporary city before Nolli. Except for its overall proportions it is also one of the more accurate delineations of the city up to the end of the 17th century.

While tracing the remains of ancient ruins and labeling classical sites, Barbey made no effort to reconstruct ancient monuments the way Bufalini did in his map. Evidently his concern was the city of his day, with equal attention paid to both the densely inhabited center and to the sparser areas within the circuit of the urban walls. The contemporary city was also Nolli’s principal concern. Both Barbey and Nolli trace the borders of the city’s fourteen Rioni. Nolli worked with Bernardini on the redrawing of those borders when they underwent considerable changes in 1744.

Barbey’s map is perhaps the best figurative source for the pre-1744 Rione borders. They are close to the written descriptions of these earlier borders by Bernardini, but do not correspond to them exactly. A comparison of the borders as depicted on the two maps throws considerable light on Bernardini’s intentions of consolidation and simplification of Rome’s administrative regions. It also suggests that these earlier borders go back at least to the first half of the Cinquecento.

View Map


Please use the address below to contact the Studium Urbis for any kind of information you may need. We will try to get back to you as soon as possible.