This study seeks to isolate a distinctive architectural tradition of the countryside in Italy through the examination of a single building type which served, over the course of its history, as both a country house for landowners and a farmhouse for tenant farmers. The hipped-roof block with central hipped-roof belvedere, apparently the invention of Vignola, appeared as a country house in Tuscany and Latium from the 1560s through the early 18th century. The sources of this building type reside in the local traditions of the countryside, castles, and farmhouses, and in the designs for country houses by several architects from the beginning of the 16th century which classicized, but still recalled, existing rural forms. The associations with both landowners and workers made it the preferred building type for the construction of new farmhouses under the land reforms of the late 18th century. This study of the development of a country house type and the characteristics of farmhouse architecture reveals that the two building traditions repeatedly interacted and that no clear distinction between monumental and vernacular architecture can be made, but rather that buildings in the countryside shared a set of symbolic forms particular to their setting.

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