Sena, Urbs Hetruriae, published by Pieter van der Aa in Leiden around 1713, is an attractive bird's-eye view of the illustrious city of Siena. This depiction not only portrays the city's topography but also serves as a valuable index to its historical and architectural landmarks, with a detailed reference of 110 "Notabili della Cittá di Siena" situated in the map's lower left corner.
Situated in the heart of Tuscany, by the 18th century, Siena was a symbol of Renaissance grandeur, and its influence in art, culture, and politics radiated well beyond its city walls. Once a rival to Florence in medieval times, the city had, by the time of this map's creation, settled into a role of historical significance, its architecture and urban planning bearing witness to the shifting tides of power, influence, and artistic patronage.
Van der Aa's representation stands as a testament to the exacting standards of 18th-century Dutch cartography, a time when the Netherlands was a global hub for mapmaking. The details, from the city’s winding streets to its formidable fortifications, convey Siena’s storied past and its prominent position in the annals of Italian and European history. The inclusion of an index, enumerating the notable landmarks, makes this not just a visual feast but also a guide to the city's rich architectural and historical heritage.
The map, beyond its function as a geographic representation, serves as a bridge between Siena's medieval prominence and its continued relevance in the early modern period. It encapsulates the city's enduring allure, holding within its fine lines and annotations the spirit of a city that has been, and continues to be, a nexus of cultural, artistic, and historical significance in Italy.
Pieter van der Aa (1659-1733) was a Dutch mapmaker and publisher who printed pirated editions of foreign bestsellers and illustrated books, but is best known for his voluminous output of maps and atlases. Van der Aa was born to a German stonecutter from Holstein. Interestingly, all three van der Aa sons came to be involved in the printing business. Hildebrand was a copper engraver and Boudewyn was a printer.