Pietro da Cortona
Among Borromini's and Bernini's contemporaries, just two or three architects' stand out. The most visible and talented was Pietro Berrettini, known as Pietro da Cortona for the town in southern Tuscany where he was born in 1597. Although he was trained as a painter, and excelled in that profession, he was at the same time an avid and successful architect, a vocation in which he seems to have been self-taught. Cortona arrived in Rome in 1612, at age 15, and for the next ten years occupied himself with the study of Roman antiquity and the classical tradition of the High Renaissance. By the mid-1620s he had won the recognition and support of some of Rome's most enlightened patrons, including the Sacchetti and Barberini families.
Cortona's first important building, the Villa del Pigneto (63), was commissioned by the Sacchetti sometime before 1629 for a wooded site just outside of Rome. It was destroyed in the nineteenth century, but several views and plans of it survive. As one might expect, the building is dependent upon a number of historical sources. Cortona undoubtedly began by studying Pliny's description of a classical Roman villa suburbana and went on to benefit, in various ways, from some of the most celebrated villas of the Renaissance. At the time of his death in 1669, Cortona owned architectural books by Vitruvius, Palladio, and Vignola, and of these, he was most influenced by Palladio's Quattro libri. The simple, symmetrical plan and concave wings of the Villa del Pigneto reveal Cortona's understanding of the phrasing of the Palladian winged villa, a Venetian structural type which he ornamented in the vocabulary of local Roman tradition. The picturesque