The Digital Piranesi

Glossary and Abbreviations


Abitazione - housing

Acquedotto - aqueduct (also simply referred to as 'Acqua') 

Ambulacro - ambulatory, in a cathedral the processional space at the far end of the church behind the altar and choir

Arcadia, Arcadi - Accademia dell'Arcadia, members called 'Arcadi', prestigious and well known Academy of literature and philosophy in Rome of which Piranesi was a member, considerable importance in Roman culture in 18th c., prominent intellectuals include Muratori, Gravina, Crescimbeni, founded by Queen Christina of Sweden

Arco, Archi - arches

Architrave - architrave, part below the tympanum (the triangular part above the columns in the pantheon for ex.) 

Arcuazione -  arcuation, the way in which a series of arches are built

Argine - bank, embankment, dam

Attico - attic (order of architecture), or lower wall above the cornice in classical buildings

Avanzi - remains, ruins 

Aja -  barnyard, farmyard, threshing floor 


Baloardo – bastion, rampart

Barbacani – Lower support wall 

Bassirilievi - bas reliefs

Bozza – boss, projecting stone, keystone 

Braccio, braccia pl. - literally 'arm', unit of measurement in early italian texts


Capitello, capitelli pl. - capital of a column

Casa - house

Cavi  - excavations or ropes, cables

Chiesa - church

Circo - circus 

Circonferenza - circumference

Cloaca - structures that formed the ancient roman sewage system

Collegio - kind of academy/college usually in monastic orders, the collegio romano was a jesuit institution that had a large museum of antiquities for ex.

Colonna - column

Cuneo - Voussoir, a wedge-shaped element, typically a stone, which is used in building an arch or vault


Fabbrica - building, structure

Fenili - spaces where hay was stored, in modern Italian 'fienili' 

Festoni - festoons

Finestra, finestre - Window, windows

Forami - type of hole or opening

Forfice – term used by Vitruvius, now called forbice, tool used in lifting/wedging 

Fornice - opening of an arch usually a passageway (the arch in the arch of Titus for ex.)

Foro - Forum

Fontana - fountain

Fregio - frieze 

Frontespizio - frontal part of architectural surface, usually part of a facade, or entire facade (also called facciata), used for first page in a book as well


Galleria - gallery (of paintings, statues) 

Granito - granite

Grottesco/grotteschi - decorative style of masks and other vegetal forms used to decorate ancient Roman buildings, popular in early modern period, literally 'grotesques' 


Incisione - engraving

Insigne - famous, renown


Lago - lake


Macigni - large blocks of stone, boulders

Maestà - majesty

Magazzeno - shop, store, storehouse, warehouse, shed, depot

Magnificenza - magnificence 

Marmo - marble

Monte - mountain, hill

Mosaici, musaici - Mosaics

Mura (pl.) - city walls

Muro - wall


Nicchia - niche

Nicchione - large niche


Orto - garden

oggidì (sometimes 'in oggi') - today, currently, nowadays, in present times


Palmo, palmi (pl.) - unit of measurement 

Peperino, peperini - type of grey marble common in Rome

Peristilo - peristyle, a colonnade surrounding a building or court, an open space enclosed by a colonnade

Perni - pivot, adjoining architectural element

Pianta -architectural plan, similar to 'blueprints', perspective is from above

Piazza - city square 

Piedistallo - pedestal

Pila - pilaster or well attached to the wall

Pilastri/pilastrelli - pilasters

Ponte - bridge

Profilo - cross section, side view, contour of an object

Pronaos - vestibule made of columns before the entrance proper to a building (the pantheon is a good example) 


Ripa - bank (along a river) 

Ristaurato - restored, rebuilt

Restituire - to restore, rebuild

Rostro - Latin Rostra, plural, a platform for speakers in the Roman Forum decorated with the beaks of captured ships, from plural of rostrum, an ancient Roman platform for public orators, the curved end of a ship's prow


Scarpellino – small chisel

Sedile - seat, cradle

Sepolcro - sepulcher, tomb  

Spaccato - section, cross section, plan

Speco - cavern, canal

Stadio - stadium, also a unit of measurement used in early Italian texts, most commonly texts of geography ie Ptolemy 

Stampa - print 

Stipiti - jambs

Stucco - type of plaster used typically in ornament or decoration 


Tazza - pool, fountain

Tegoloni - curved tiles, roof tiles specifically, tegula in latin, made of clay traditionally, marble, bronze, gilt, sometimes had insignia used for dating of sites 

Tempio - Temple

Terme - Baths

Tepidario - tepidarium, warm room of the ancient Roman thermae used to sit in

Tevolozza - bare type of brick 

Timpano/Tympano - tympanum 

Travertini - travertines, blocks of stone

Triclinio - triclinium in Latin, a couch extending around three sides of a table used by the ancient Romans for reclining at meals, more commonly refers to a dining room in ancient Roman houses


Vasca - pool, fountain

Vestigie - ruins, literally 'vestiges' 

Vicino - near, close by

Vigna - vineyard 

Guide to Italian and Latin Abbreviations

Abbreviations for Volumes

Camo Marzo = Campo Marzio
Cps. Ms / Cam.s M.s / Camp. Mart.   = Campus Martius
Aa. Re. = Antichità Romane   [Roman Antiquities]
Ve Ra  = Vedute di Roma        [Views of Rome]
V. = Vedi                                 [See]
Tom. or T. = Tomo                 [Volume]
1o or Po or pmo. = primo         [First]
2o or So or Secdo = secondo   [Second]  
3o or To or Tzo. = terzo           [Third]
4o, 5o = quarto, quinto             [Fourth, Fifth, and so on]
Tav. or Ta = Tavola                 [Plate]
Fig. = Figura                            [Figure] 


Aa.Re.Tom.I. Tav. 19. Fig. 2 = Antichità Romane Tomo I Tavola 19 Figura 2

Aa. Re. T.o I. T.a 9. = Antichità Romane Tomo I Tavola 9

V. Ve Ra  = Vedi Vedute di Roma

Abbreviations in the Text, d.ta, d.te, d. ti = detto, detta, dette, detti                            [aforementioned, called, the same], sud.ta, sud.te, sud. ti = suddetto, suddetta, suddette, suddetti     [aforementioned]

med.o, med.a, med.e, med.i = medesimo, medesima, medesime, medesimi [the same], framm.ti = frammento, frammenti                 [fragment, fragments]

letta, lette = lettera, lettere                                           [letter, letters]

no, ni= numero, numeri                                               [number, numbers]

S. = San, Sant', Santo                        [St.]
S.a = Santa                                          [St.]
Sant.a = Santissima                            [Holy, Saintly, St.] 
S.a M.a = Santa Maria                         [St. Mary] = Chiesa                                     [Church]
Confr.ta = Confraternità                       [Confraternity] 
Tem., Temp. = Tempio                       [Temple]
Conser. = Conservatorio                     [College/School] = Maggiore                             [Great, Main] = Signore                                      [Signor, Mr.]
March.e = Marchese                            [Marquis]
Cav. = Cavalier, Cavaliere                  [Knight]
Ecc.a, = Eccellenza                   [Excellence]
Ecc.e = Eccellente                               [Excellence] = illustrissimo                              [Most illustrious]

PP. = Padri or Papa/Pontifcio             [Fathers or Pope (depending on what word follows)]
SS. = Santi.                                       [Saints]
Pontific.o = Pontificato                         [Pontificate]
Imp., Imp.e = Imperatore/Imperadore[Emperor]
Sen. = Senatore                                  [Senator]

M.te = Monte                                        [Mount]
P.ta = Porta                                          [Gate, Door] = Condotto                             [Aqueduct, Fountainhead]

Palaz.o = Palazzo                                [palace] = Villa                                            [Villa]
Anfit.o = Anfiteatro                               [Amphitheater]

Campid.o = Campidoglio                     [Capitoline Hill]

volgarm.te = volgarmente                    [commonly referred to, known as]
comunem.te = comunemente              [commonly]
meritam.te = meritamente                    [justly]
particolarm.te = particolarmente          [particularly]
finalm.te = finalmente                          [finally]
anticam.e = anticamente                     [in ancient times]
certam.te = certamente                       [certainly]
semplicem.te = semplicemente           [simply]

iscriz.e = iscrizione                              [inscription]

super.e = superiore                             [upper, usually upper level or part]
infer.e = inferiore                                 [lower, usually lower level or part]

Units of measurement 
pal. = palmi
br. = braccia

Abbreviated Names

Ant.o = Antonio

Aless.o = Alessandro = Augusto

Dam.o = Damiano 

Franc.o = Francesco

Gio. = Giovanni

Vitr.o = Vitruvio

L. = usually Lucio

M. = usually Marco


Common Latin Abbreviations

F., fec. = fecit                                                  [made by]
Del., delt., delin. = delineavit                          [drawn by]
Sculp., sc., sculpt., scolp. = sculpsit               [engraved by] 
            (In Italian, scolp. = scolpì)
Inc. = incidit, incidebat                                    [engraved by, incised by]
            (In Italian, inc. = incise)
Ex. or excud. = excudit                                   [engraved by, printed by]
Inv. = invenit or inventor                                 [designed by, originally drawn by]
Imp. = impressit                                              [printed by, published by]
Scrip. = scripsit                                               [text authored and/or engraved by]
C. Priv. = cum privilegio                                  [Privilege to publish]

S.P.Q.R = Senatus Populusque Romanus    [Roman Senate and People]

Pont. = Pontifex                                              [Pope]
Max. = Maximus                                             [Great]

Caes. = Caesar


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