About the early architecture of the Netherlands, see the Etruscans (art), the Roman Empire (art) and early Christian art.
The classical tradition of the Roman Empire has marked the country’s architecture through the ages. We see the ruins of Antonius and the Faustina Temple at the Roman Forum in Rome, from 141 AD In the temple room, the church of San Lorenzo in Miranda was built in the Middle Ages, while the facade is from the Baroque.
The Middle Ages
After the collapse of the Roman Empire, the architecture of Italy was also characterized by a mixture of the classical heritage and the new impulses brought by the invading peoples. A central monument from the period is the tomb of the East Gothic King Theodoric, which ca. 526 was erected in Ravenna. In 540, Ravenna was conquered by the Byzantine Empire and became the main gateway for Byzantine art and architecture. An image of Byzantine influence is the dome-covered central church of San Vitale (completed 547), which has strong similarities to Byzantine church buildings. In other parts of the church architecture, however, the early Christian style was maintained. An example is the basilica of San Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, from the early 500s.
In northern Italy, the langobards came to play an important role. Among the Langobardian architectural monuments is the chapel Tempietto Longobardo (c. 760) in the convent of Santa Maria in Valle in Cividale del Friuli, which is also influenced by Byzantine architecture. At about the same time, the langobards were beaten militarily, but the name lived on in the designation of the Lombardy region, which among other things. included the city states of Milan and Mantova. Lombard architecture should be of great importance to the development of the Romanesque style. An early example is the sober basilica San Pietro in Agilate from ca. 875. A somewhat later example is the Basilica of San Zenoin Verona, mainly designed in the 12th century and known as a main monument in Lombard architecture. Other parts of Northern Italian church architecture up to approx. 1150 is characterized by screen-like facades with dwarf galleries and the use of polychrome stone. Examples are the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio in Milan, San Michele in Pavia, and the cathedrals in Ferrara, Parma and Pisa. Byzantine architecture, however, also played an important role. In Venice, in the 11th century, San Marco (St. Mark’s Church) was erected over the tomb of the evangelist Mark and was designed according to the pattern of the Emperor Justinian’s Apostle Church in Constantinople.
Rome and the central parts of Italy were more strongly influenced by the early Christian tradition as reflected in a large number of basilically designed church buildings. Examples from Rome are Santa Maria in Cosmedin (ca. 1100), Santa Maria in Trastevere, with a tower from 1148, and San Clemente, which was rebuilt in the 1100s on the ruins of a former church and which also contains remains of an antique Mitras shrine.
In southern Italy, the Saracens carried out approx. The 900 conquest of Sicily and brought significant impetus to Italian architecture. In the 12th century, the island was conquered by the Normans. Under the Norman rulers, a distinctive mix architecture emerged that incorporated various cultural elements – from Norman West towers to Arabic decorations. Examples are the cathedrals of Cefalù (commenced in 1131), Palermo (commenced in 1172) and Monreale (commenced in 1174).
The Gothic arrived late in Italy and was introduced by the Cistercian in the 13th century through the monastery in Fossanova, where the church was inaugurated in 1208. The Franciscans followed in Assisi, where San Francesco was built from 1228, and the Dominicans in Florence where Arnolfo di Cambio led the construction. of the cathedral, which began in 1296. A breakthrough got the gothic with the cathedral in Siena (1226-65), while the construction of the great church of San Petronio in Bologna (1390–) and the cathedral in Milan (1386–) marked the end of the Gothic the period of ecclesiastical architecture.
The profane architecture was also characterized by Gothic style elements and shows that the cities and the bourgeoisie characterized the culture more than before. Examples are the mighty City Hall of Siena (1288-1309), Palazzo Vecchio in Florence (commenced in 1299) and Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) in Venice (c. 1345-1438). Some of the townspeople’s palaces along the Grand Canal in the rich commercial city of Venice are among the culprits of Gothic style ideals. Among these are the richly ornate Ca ‘d’Oro (1440). Other central plants from the same period are Piazza del Duomoin Pisa which also includes the leaning tower which was completed in 1350, and the many tower buildings erected by citizen and noble families and others during the Middle Ages in Bologna, Pavia, San Gimignano and other cities in Northern Italy. The division of the country into more or less autonomous city states and principals was to continue until the mid-1800s and also characterize the country’s architectural history.
The great Florentine Renaissance palaces were models of similar buildings in the rest of Italy. Many Italian cities have several examples of these large houses. We see B. Rossetti’s Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara, built in 1492 for Duke Sigismund d’Este. The palace is decorated with boulders carved like diamonds.
The return to ancient art and culture, the Renaissance, had its breakthrough in Florence. Among the foremost monuments of the Hungarian Renaissance are the Ospedale degli Innocenti (Hittebarnhospitalet, begun 1421) and the large dome of the cathedral (1420–36), both designed by the architect Filippo Brunelleschi. Of great importance for the spread of Renaissance architecture was the architect and theorist Leon Battista Alberti, who in his books formulated the basic rules of classicism, on the basis of Vitruvius and studies of Roman architecture. His own architecture is the facade of the church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence (1458–71).
A leading name in Italian 20th century architecture has been Pier Luigi Nervi. We see the Palazzetto dello Sport (‘the little sports palace’) in Rome, 1948–50.
Central to the Renaissance architecture is the city palace with its bounding and systematically built exterior walls and inner courtyard surrounded by arcades. Examples in Florence are Palazzo Medici-Riccardi (commenced in 1444) by Michelozzo di Bartolommeo and Palazzo Strozzi (1489-1504) by Benedetto da Maiano and Il Cronaca. Other examples are the Palazzo Ducale in Urbino (1465–72), which was attributed to the architect Luciano Laurana, and the great Cancelleria in Rome (1486–98), which was originally built as a private residence for a cardinal who was also the nephew of Pope Sixtus 4 An example of a large-scale plant is Cortile del Belvedere in the Vatican (1504? -) by the architect Bramante.
An expression of the theories of the Hungarian Church on the architecture of the church is the small dome-covered Tempietto in Rome (1502?) By Bramante. Several of Leonardo da Vinci’s projects also show similar central buildings, but one of the very few central churches that was built is Santa Maria della Consolazione in Todi (1508–). A rare unified space from the period is the arcade-enclosed Piazza del Duomo in Vigevano in northern Italy (1493–95).
The architecture of the High Renaissance is characterized by greater emphasis on variety and also contains features of formal mannerism. Examples of city palaces from the period are Palazzo Vidoni Caffarelli in Rome (c. 1515-20) by Gregorio Canonica and Palazzo Farnese in Rome by Antonio Sangallo dy and Michelangelo. Examples of mannerism are the Palazzo del Tè in Mantova (1525–35) by Giulio Romano and Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne in Rome (begun 1535) by Baldassare Peruzzi. Other central monuments from the period are the Biblioteca Laurenziana in Florence (1526–) and the Medici Chapelin San Lorenzo in Florence (1519–34) by Michelangelo, who in a rare way combines architecture and sculpture. An important church project is Michelangelo’s part of St. Peter’s Church in Rome, built in 1558–60. Examples of urban planning of the period are the Capitol Square in Rome (1573–1612), where Michelangelo masterfully combined various urban elements, and the great Palazzo degli Uffizi in Florence (1560–) by Giorgio Vasari.
In Vicenza, architect and architectural theorist Andrea Palladio worked in a more pure classical style. the Great Basilica (1549–) and the Teatro Olimpico (1580–). Outside the city he was responsible for the design of Villa Rotonda (c. 1550-54). In Venice, Palladio drew the churches of San Giorgio Maggiore (1560–) and Il Redentore (1577–). By publishing his projects, Palladio had a great influence on European architecture.
Work on St. Peter’s Church was continued in 1588–90 according to plans by the architect Guglielmo della Porta, and 1607–12 according to plans by Carlo Maderno, which extended the original central plant to a long church. The work ushered in the Baroque with deliberate use of perspective and strong architectural effects. Prior to this, however, the architect Il Vignola had completed another monument that is considered to be the Baroque prelude, the Jesuit’s main church Il Gesù, which was begun in 1568. Also the large street plants in Rome that Pope Sixtus 5 planned in 1589 to link the city’s central churches, is to count to the Baroque. The same is true for the gardens at Villa d’Este in Tivoli, near Rome (c. 1550-1630), which is characterized by axes and surprising effects, and which was built by Pirro Ligorio et al.
The main works of the Italian Baroque include the oval and pillar-shaped space that Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini added to St. Peter’s Church (1656–). Other church buildings in Rome where great emphasis was placed on unusual and effective space forms are Sant’Andrea al Quirinale (1658–70) by Bernini and San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (1634–41) by Francesco Borromini. In the church of San Lorenzo in Turin (1667–), architect Guarino Guarini used elements from Gothic and Muslim architecture to create new space effects. In Palazzo Carignano in the same city (1679–) he gave movement to the long facade by alternating between concave and convex portions. Other central profane monuments are the Scala Regia stairwellin the Vatican (1663–66), where Bernini deliberately made use of perspective effects, and Palazzo Barberini in Rome (1626–28), where Maderno broke with the Renaissance scheme for designing a city palace.
In Italian architecture, the 18th century represents in many ways a continuation of the Baroque period. An example of the influence of rococo, however, is the Spanish staircase in Rome (1721–25), which was built by architects Federico De Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi. More refined rococo is the theatrical facility Piazza di Sant’Ignazio (1728) in Rome. The large Borghese park in Rome also bears baroque ideals for garden art. In Venice, architectural theorist Carlo Loddoli worked and agitated for a functionalist-based neoclassicism. His lectures were published in 1786.
Architecture in the early 19th century was characterized by empire. An example is the Arco della Pace in Milan (1806–38) by architect Luigi Cagniola. Another monument from the same period is the Piazza del Popolo in Rome (1816) by Giuseppe Valadier.
Historicism. At the gathering of Italy in 1870, Rome was made the capital. The many buildings that were erected to house the new central administration were strongly influenced by historicism. Examples of monumental architecture from the period are the Palace of Justice in Rome (1888–1910) by architect Guglielmo Calderini, and the grand monument of Viktor Emanuel 2 in Rome (1884–1911) by architect Giuseppe Sacconi. At the same time, the major cities were greatly expanded with historic buildings rented out. An example of a plant that represented both a completely new construction project and that used new materials is the glass- covered business street Galleria Vittorio Emanuele 2 in Milan (1865-67) by architect Giuseppe Mengoni.
European currents in the early 1900s had little impact on Italian architects in the beginning. Raimondo D’Aronco’s main building at the 1902 Torino exhibition is one of the few examples of Italian art nouveau. Antonio Sant’Elia published his critical manifesto and utopian urban sketches to a Città Nuova in 1914 as a signal of liberation from 19th-century academia, but not even as part of Marinetti’s futuristic movement did his ideas gain any immediate impact.
With the Fiat factory in Turin (Matté Trucco, 1919–26), and the establishment of Gruppo 7, led by G. Terragni, in Milan in 1926, modernism achieved its definitive breakthrough. The group argued for an architecture based on logic and reason, but which emphasized bringing its rationalism back to the Roman tradition. The best examples of this early rationalism are, in addition to the Fiat factory, the housing block Novecomumin Como (Giuseppe Terragni, 1927), the Florence railway station (Giovanni Michelucci, 1936) and the same stadium (Pier Luigi Nervi, 1932). With its connection to Italian classical tradition, the way was open to the rationalists’ incorporation into the fascist movement Novecento. But also within the part of the new architecture that, in its new monumentalism, became the official architecture of the fascist regime, structures and individual buildings were created where the political templates could still not conceal architectural qualities, such as Marcello Piacentini’s plans for the university city of Rome (1933).
After the breakthrough of modernism, Italian architects have worked in the tension between modernism and tradition. The conclusion of the peace led to a thorough reassessment of the values on which Italian architecture should be based. The views were moderated, taking away from both fascism’s rhetorical references to Italian past and the most experimental manifestations of modernism, focusing instead on what was perceived as people’s healthy values. This was to be realized in a large-scale reconstruction work that included housing construction, investment in southern Italy and development for public services in all cities. In this way, development programs and attitudes came together and created a form of populism, where emphasis was placed on sobriety and, at times, an acquired poverty in the formal vocabulary (Ludovico Quaroni,
Like Quaroni, several of the pre-war generation were active even after the war (Eugenio Montuori’s main train station, 1950, and Franco Albini’s Rinascente building, 1961, both in Rome). Luigi Figini and Gino Pollini continued their collaboration with industrial magnate A. Olivetti on the development of Ivrea, a collaboration that had begun as early as 1934. Through deliberate choice of architects, Olivetti developed early what was later termed a “corporate image”, at the same time as he was of crucial importance for the further development of Italian architecture and industrial design. Also Carlo Scarpa designed for Olivetti (store in Venice, 1958), and his special strength was the details and the joints of the elements, which he cultivated towards a purely ornamental expression (the extension and decoration of the Museo di Castelvecchio in Verona, 1964, Gipsoteca Canoviana in Treviso, 1957). Banca Popolare di Verona, completed in 1981, three years after his death, on the other hand, shows a greater degree of adaptation to regional grammar.
Scarpa belonged to the circle of the journal Casabella which, under the editor E. Rogers, propagated for the social and moral obligations of architecture, and thus initiated a settlement with the orthodoxy of modernism (Roberto Gabetti and A. Oreglia d’Isolas Bottega d’Erasmo, 1956 in Turin). His most distinctive expression was given this direction in the architectural office of BBPR’s Torre Velasca (Milan 1957), who, with his reference to the medieval city tower, in combination with the usual Italian sense of experimental constructive solutions, postulates that all newer architecture must be based on a new interpretation of history.
In BBPR’s work we also find inspiration from Frank Lloyd Wright’s organic architecture, conveyed by theorist Bruno Zevi. Similarly, since the Florence stadiums (the two sports halls in Rome, 1957–60), Nervi’s buildings can be said to represent a kind of organic constructivism. For Paolo Portoghesi, too, the structures play an important role, but a freer use of geometric systems gives an expression that is both more personal and gives clearer connections to Italian tradition through the articulate shaping and detailing of the building volumes (Casa Baldi, Rome 1962, the Church of Sacra Famiglia, Salerno 1968–74, Islamic Cultural Center and Mosque, Rome 1978–91).
Aldo Rossi, who also belonged to the circle around Casabella, developed the theoretical point of view in the city’s architecture (1966), where in his development history he demonstrated general basic forms, typologies, based on collective experience, and soon emerged as the clearest continuation of Italian rationalism with roots back in the 1930s. His theoretical contributions and later completed works (Cemetery in Modena, 1971, and in particular the Teatro del Mondo, Venice, 1979) fortified his position as one of the front figures in the postmodern rebellion against modernism, which he believed reduced the architecture to “economic opportunism”.
A very special position, and regardless of the prevailing trends in Italian architecture, has Renzo Piano, who with the Pompidou Center in Paris (including Richard Rogers, 1977) placed himself as one of the foremost among the architects who cultivated a clean international technological language, free of historical or regional references. It is even more interesting, therefore, that in the mid-1990s, Piano completed a complete conversion of Trucco’s Fiat factory in Turin into a technological and cultural center, in a way that fully respects the building’s historical character.