Lessons with Old Maps

My name is Neal Winfield, I’m 51 and I’m addicted to old maps. Yes! I confess, I have an obsessive passion for maps. People laugh when I get excited at the sight of an old street or provincial map but I just find them so interesting.

Old map history lesson

They show you how things have changed, where old buildings once were and the old town’s layout. There is lots you can learn from them and as a landscape painter I get great inspiration from these old documents.

So imagine my ecstatic rapture last week when teaching at one of Citta di Castello’s banks, I find a 6 x 7 foot, reproduction of a 500 year old street map of the city. Well I just had to whip out my iPad and take a few pictures.

What impressed me most wasn’t the expected monuments that are still visible such as the cylindrical bell tower and the duomo but the everyday buildings that are clearly still recognisable. So here are some facinating views of old Citta di Castello with the modern day photos. A “Then and Now” stretching back over 500 years. Enjoy!

The Palazzo Vitelli

Vitelli Palazzo with the arched tunnel (1) and the gateway (2) leading into the garden at the rear.

Vitelli Palazzo with the arched tunnel (1) and the gateway (2) leading into the garden at the rear.

The palazzo has long been a feature of Citta di Castello so it is no surprise that it is clearly shown on the map.

Citta di Castello

1) Palazzo Vitelli Archway

The distinctive archway with its sgraffito designs on the walls and the gardens are clearly visible. As is the large elaborate entrance gate at the back of the villa.

DSCN4385

2) Rear gateway to the garden

SantaMariaMaggiore

Santa Maria Maggiore

The Church of Santa Maria Maggiore is a building that has stood for many centuries but what is interesting is that the street patterns have altered little in this time. You can still see the little alleyways that link onto the high street and while many buildings have probably changed, the street pattern remains pretty much the same.

Citta di Castello church

1)Church of Santa Maria Maggiore

3) Alley way on Via Madonna

2) Alley way on Via Madonna

3) Crossroads between Via Madonna and Via Mattonata

3) Crossroads between Via Madonna and Via Mattonata

4) Via Borgo Farinario

4) Via Borgo Farinario

Via San Florido

Via San Florido

Via San Florido

I adore the simplistic way in which the buildings are drawn and even with just a few lines you can still discover the old facades. On Via S. Florida, you can still see the big door and balcony, with the tall building two doors down.

What also fascinates me is how they draw the street plan and fill in the buildings around the city blocks. The same technique can be  seen in the Cagli map I used as reference in an earlier painting.

Via San Florido

Via San Florido

I’m sure with a little closer inspection and the chance to get some better quality photos I will be able to find more interesting blasts from the past. This is one time I don’t mind talking to the bank manager.

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