Beautifully hand-colored antique engraved bird's-eye view of Serravalle in Piedmont, Italy, by Braun & Hogenberg.
The cartouche translates as:
The picture of the town of Serravalle, which you see, viewer, has been contributed to our work entirely at his own expense by Minutius, son of Hieronymus Minutius, a noble gentleman and one renowned for the far-reaching competence of his jurisdiction. We saw him sojourning in Cologne, where he was on business for Gregory XIII; while our good wishes accompany him, we should also like to accompany him on his way with this remembrance, even though it might be against his will, so that even those who have not seen him may learn of his excellence. However, those who do not yet know him will also see his excellence if God the Almighty does not summon erring souls too soon back to the eternal seat of the Blessed.
Taschen's book on Braun & Hogenberg explains the view thusly:
The view from the west into the valley shows the town of Serravalle in an idyllic setting in the Alpine foothills and surrounded by orchards. The tall bell tower of St Mary's cathedral stands out at the centre and on the west side of the marketplace is the town hall with the square bell tower next to it that is today the city's landmark. Patrician palaces with gardens at the rear line one side of the square. The loggias of the shops are on the opposite side of the main square. Serravalle's importance as an agricultural centre is emphasized by the figures in the foreground. On the left-hand edge of the illustration is the 8th-century stronghold of the Counts of Camino. The entire city is well protected by the spaciously laid out city walls that extend on up the hillside, where the pilgrimage shrine of the martyred Augusta can be identified. In 1337 Serravalle fell to the Republic of Venice. In 1866 the town was united with neighbouring Ceneda to form the town of Vittorio Veneto.
Georg Braun (1541-1622) was born and died in Cologne. His primary vocation was as Catholic cleric; he spent thirty-seven years as canon and dean at the church St. Maria ad Gradus, in Cologne. Braun was the chief editor of the Civitates orbis terrarum, the greatest book of town views ever published. His job entailed hiring artists, acquiring source material for the maps and views, and writing the text. In this role, he was assisted by Abraham Ortelius. Braun lived into his 80s, and he was the only member of the original team to witness the publication of the sixth volume in 1617.
Frans Hogenberg (ca. 1540-ca. 1590) was a Flemish and German engraver and mapmaker who also painted. He was born in Mechelen, south of Antwerp, the son of wood engraver and etcher Nicolas Hogenberg. Together with his father, brother (Remigius), uncle, and cousins, Frans was one member of a prominent artistic family in the Netherlands.
During the 1550s, Frans worked in Antwerp with the famous mapmaker Abraham Ortelius. There, he engraved the maps for Ortelius’ groundbreaking first atlas, published in Antwerp in 1570, along with Johannes van Deotecum and Ambrosius and Ferdinand Arsenius. It is suspected he engraved the title page as well. Later, Ortelius supported Hogenberg with information for a different project, the Civitates orbis terrarium (edited by Georg Braun, engraved by Hogenberg, published in six volumes, Cologne, 1572-1617). Hogenberg engraved the majority of the work’s 546 prospects and views.
It is possible that Frans spent some time in England while fleeing from religious persecution, but he was living and working in Cologne by 1580. That is the city where he died around 1590. In addition to his maps, he is known for his historical allegories and portraits. His brother, Remigius, also went on to some fame as an engraver, and he died around the same time as his brother.