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In panoramic praise of his native city, Coluccio Salutati, the Florentine humanist chancellor, asked the rhetorical question: “What city, not merely in Italy, but in all the world, is more securely placed within its circle of walls, more proud in its palazzi, more bedecked with churches, more beautiful in its architecture, more imposing in its gates, richer in piazzas, happier in its wide streets, greater in its people, more glorious in its citizenry, more inexhaustible in wealth, more fertile in its fields?”

For fourteenth- through sixteenth-century humanists, the Renaissance city was more than simply a classical revival of Greek and Roman architectural styles, cast in the new one-point perspective space; it was an embodiment of civic virtues, ideals of public life, of good government, a ...

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