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The New World: Proof Positive That Pliny Did Not Know It All

Sat, April 2, 8:30 to 10:00am, Park Plaza, Floor: Mezzanine, Statler Room


During the Cinquecento fabulous objects, titillating accounts and heretofore unknown plants and vegetables arrived in Italy from the Americas. Members of elite Italian society read widely and collected notable items that arrived from across the Atlantic. In this paper I will consider how Archbishop Ludovico Beccadelli’s collection might be connected to an intriguing group of individuals who read voraciously, compared notes with leading geographers including Giambattista Ramusio, invested money in trade and development projects in the New World and championed a spirit of exchange between Italy and America that countered the clearly colonial exploitation of the Spanish conquistadors and their masters. In turn, we will consider how Beccadelli and his peers enjoyed the fruits of this new world and integrated discoveries into their collections and put lessons learned from the Americas into practice in Italy.