On the east side of Piazza di San Pier Maggiore tower the three tall arches of a portico, almost all that remains of the church which gave the piazza its name. San Pier Maggiore was largely demolished in 1784, but we know what it once looked like, thanks to the work of Giuseppe Zocchi (1711-1764). Zocchi was a vedutista, a painter of views. View painting, which reached its apex during the 18th century, was a peculiarly Italian preoccupation, stemming from a strong feeling of civic pride and sense of place.
The names of the view painters Francesco Guardi and Giovanni Antonio Canal (better known as Canaletto) in Venice and Giovanni Battista Piranesi in Rome are familiar to many, but their contemporary in Florence is little known outside his native city.
Zocchi was commissioned by Marchese Andrea Gerini to record all the major landmarks of Florence, which he did in a series of drawings. Twenty-five of the drawings were turned into engravings and published in 1744 under the title Scelta XXIV vedute delle principali contrade, piazze, chiese, e palazzi della cittàdi Firenze. The book is an invaluable guide to 18th century Florence.