The book’s fourth and fifth chapters explore topographic images of the Eternal City, with a particularly compelling account of the contentious dispute between Ligorio, Bartolomeo Marliani, and other antiquarians about the location of the ancient Roman Forum (an area smaller than what we today consider to be the Forum). Long’s work on cartography calls to mind Jessica Maier’s Rome Measured and Imagined (2015). However, Long’s discussion of how print shops were important places of dialog between antiquarians adds to our understanding of how cartographic knowledge was produced and transferred in early modernity.
The last two chapters of Engineering the Eternal City focus on urban planning and the historical use of Rome’s streets. While some of the material presented is well-trodden territory (e.g., Long’s discussion of the papal possesso and the project to relocate the Vatican piazza’s obelisk), less well-known accounts of issues (e.g., debates about street paving) offer fresh details about the surface treatment of early modern Roman throughways.
As Long’s extensive bibliography reveals, engineering and infrastructure in Renaissance Rome (and elsewhere) have an extended history as scholarly preoccupations—Engineering the Eternal City has good company. Yet, unlike many other texts on the topic, Long makes the important and often overlooked point that distinctions between what we would call engineering and architectural design—in both material and theoretical realms—were far more slippery in the late sixteenth century than they are today. Scholars will find that in the depth and breadth of projects Long covers, she has made a lasting contribution to the study of sixteenth-century Rome.