I'm crazy about maps. I've been known to pick up a map, with no travel plans in mind, and chart out a route from say Paris to Bordeaux (passing through Tours), or Berlin to Prague (definitely via Dresden). Don't ask me why. I don't want to get in a car and actually drive these routes. I'd prefer to make the journey in my head, I guess. Still, I can't resist picking up a map. It's such a satisfying read. Particularly ancient maps with oddball names for today's cities, or regions or states.
Old Italian maps, I find, are the best because the landlord has changed so much over the years. Italy has only been Italy as we know it today since the 1860s. Before that it was a jumble of states, administered by powerful merchants (as in the case of Tuscany, Genoa, etc) or it was under papal rule.
Where am I going with this?
Well, Xtina and I just received an incredible gift -- a 17th Century map of what is today Le Marche. At the time, it was under the greasy thumb of the pope. Le Marche (or most of it) was known as "Marca d'Ancona olim Picenum," a convenient way of amassing the four provinces of Le Marche into one territory for the pope. The map is an incredibly rich hand-drawn piece of art. It's not exactly accurate, but it's close enough. At the time, Amandola was called just "Mandola" and for some reason Sarnano was shifted about 15 km to the northeast. Close enough. The sea is not the Adriatic, but instead the Golfo di Venetia. Urbino, Rafaello's hometown, is a province unto itself.
See for yourself. The first pic is of the entire region; the second a close-up of the Amandola (here noted as "Mandola) region. Yes, I'm a total map geek.