Visitors to early modern Rome would often bring home prints of the ancient and modern sites of the city as reminders of their visit. This printed grid of Roman street vendors is one such souvenir. Those who go selling and working around Rome, shows goods sold on the streets of the city, including hot and cold food, household items and beauty products.
This grid from 1612, which was obtained by Samuel Pepys’ nephew in Rome and is now in the Pepys Library, Magdalene College, Cambridge.
In the video hear sung historic street cries set to the grid.
Ambrogio Brambilla’s print of 1612 shows 191 vendors selling their wares and services on the streets of Rome. The grid shows the extraordinary variety of goods – from household products to ready-made food – which might have been available to a population which had tripled by 1600 to 100,000 inhabitants. Was the grid printed simply as a memento for travellers to Rome? Or was it some kind of fantasy image at a time of want? These are questions which are still being considered by historians.
The accompanying translation is a work-in-progress and the subject of a forthcoming article entitled, ‘Street luxuries in early modern Rome’, in Sarah Carter and Ivan Gaskell (eds), The Oxford Handbook of History and Material Culture (forthcoming Oxford University Press). I would like to thank Giulia Galastro, Mary Laven, Giorgio Riello, and especially Ivan Day of HistoricFood.com.
Any comments on the translation can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.