Still waters, currents, thermal waters: they mark the territories of Lazio, flowing into the Tiber, into the many volcanic lakes, dispersing among resurgences, marrangles and marshes. Copious in winter but scarce in summer, they have made it necessary, for their exploitation, solutions whose expertise, the ancient monumental ruins will remain for a long time unparalleled models. Works for irrigation, drinking or plumbing use - maintained in their declining functionality and subject to continuous adjustments of the structural system - have thus guaranteed the transmission of knowledge, experimental observations and applied knowledge that, starting from the Renaissance, will shape what will later turn out to be a real scientific revolution.
Lakes in Lazio
In the seventeenth century Rome attracted large crowds of intellectuals: in the vast entourage of rich pontiffs and educated cardinals, assignments were highly coveted, careers dazzling, success for ever. The city was home to the greatest architects, painters and sculptors, together with botanists, mathematicians, geographers and a multitude of adventurers or simple swindlers. In this effervescent climate, cosmopolitan and greedy for novelty, on the roads already beaten by pilgrims, the Grand Tour blossoms. Travellers and scientists, pioneers and men of letters, who have been awakening sleepy scenarios for centuries, in the form of landscapes to admire, panoramas to portray or recreate in ever more complex plant arrangements, are pushing themselves to Rome.
It was in 1675 when Gaspar Van Wittel, a young Dutch immigrant and aspiring cartographer, accompanied with his sketches the plans to make the Tiber navigable. The view is born: a different way of looking that captures and enhances the harmony between cities, countryside and natural balances. Others will follow the style "from life" without however grasping its purest heritage: the fascination for changes in light, local nuances, seasonal changes.
Even seventy years later, Piranesi does not limit itself to decorating the maps that detail morphology and depth of the riverbed. Mechanistic theories are about to undermine the empirical bases of research: increasingly sectorial techniques and increasingly artificial interventions are deluding themselves that they can separate water from land. Aesthetic ideals are relegated to places of pleasure, feeding nurseries and gardens: refreshed by fountains and nymphaea prostrated to reflect on the lake shores, precious caskets of plants that have disappeared elsewhere, parks incorporate entire ecosystems and demonstrate how to transform the wild forces of nature into biodiversity. Now they are the ones who hand down that happy unified conception that protects the environment to enrich man's landscape and, with their beauty, remind us today of the deepest sense of our existence on the planet. Alessandra Valentinelli