I'm working on research for my next book, on Renaissance chef, Bartolomeo Scappi. I find the whole research side of historical fiction fascinating. It's like peeling back layers of paint on an elaborate painting to discover the essence of the people who inspired and created such masterpieces. One of my characters is related to Agostino Chigi, one of Rome's wealthiest bankers in the early 16th century. Some tourists may be more familiar with him as the man who built the Villa Farnesina on the banks of the Trastevere. It sports paintings by Raphael, Baldassare Peruzzi, and Sebastiano del Piombo. But for the most part, it is often left off of itineraries of busy travelers who head straight for the Forum or the Trevi Fountain. This is a good thing, in my opinion, because it makes the visit so much more pleasant for those who want to bask in the sumptuous frescoes without being jostled by too many others.

At any rate, when I was looking for more information about him, I came across his astrology chart, of all things.

Agostino Chigi - natal chart (Placidus)

It's part of a database of charts in the Astro-Databank wiki that "publishes the huge collection of astrological data collected by Lois Rodden and her cooperators, so that these data can be used for astrological research, for astrological publications and for serious astrological discussion."

I find it rather apropos that I ran across his chart. Not because it tells me anything of use (after all, I'm not an astrologer), but because astrology was very important to people of the Renaissance, especially during the time of Chigi. The Church opposed it, of course, but that didn't stop people from consulting the stars to understand the world around them.

Chigi likely consulted astrologers regularly for an understanding of his world. It was certainly important to him because he commissioned Baldassare Peruzzi to include astrological significance in the paintings in the loggia at the Villa Farnesina, all corresponding to his date of birth on December 1, 1466.

But while the chart and how it corresponds to the beauty of the Villa Farnesina is interesting, I wish that I had more information about his family before I arbitrarily make up a daughter or niece for him!