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The First Printed Map of the City of Palermo

Fantastic example of the Lafreri School style of cartography, with many decorative elements and attractive features. The map represents the first printed map of the Sicilian capital.

The map takes an axonometric projection of the city, presenting it in an attractive, sub-symmetric manner. This format had already been in use in manuscript mapping of the city, and would remain prevalent until the mid-19th century.

The map includes a key naming 128 places of interest throughout the city. It is dedicated to Marcantonio Colonna, the Viceroy of the island. This is a finely engraved map, with notable attention to detail in the countryside and the area surrounding the city.

Bifolco and Ronca ascribe the publication of this map to Claudio Duchetti and its design to Orazio Malocchi. The plate would later be passed on to Giacomo Gherardi and reprinted in 1602 by Giovanni Orlandi.


The map exists in two states, of which this is the first.

  1. Imprint reads: Romae Apud Claudij Duchettj Anno Dn. 1580.
  2. Left side of plate reduced by 5 mm. Imprint changed to Ioannes Orlandi fornis romae 1602.

The Lafreri School

The Lafreri School is a commonly used name for a group of mapmakers, engravers, and publishers who worked in Rome and Venice from ca. 1544 to 1585. The makers, who were loosely connected via business partnerships and collaborations, created maps that were then bound into composite atlases; the maps would be chosen based on the buyer or compiler’s interests. As the maps were initially published as separate-sheets, the style and size of maps included under the umbrella of the “School” differed widely. These differences can also be seen in the surviving Lafreri atlases, which have maps bound in with varying formats including as folded maps, maps with wide, trimmed, or added margins, smaller maps, etc.

The most famous mapmakers of the School included Giacomo Gastaldi and Paolo Forlani, among others. The School’s namesake, Antonio Lafreri, was a map and printseller. His 1572 catalog of his stock, entitled Indice Delle Tavole Moderne Di Geografia Della Maggior Parte Del Mondo, has a similar title to many of the composite atlases and thus his name became associated with the entire output of the larger group.

Condition Description
Trimmed inside the neatline at the top of the map (remargined). Likewise with the right and bottom edges. The lower-left corner with some minor loss of image replaced in manuscript facsimile. Scattered faint toning.
Bilfonco and Ronca 1168