The Castiglioni World Map is a large nautical map drawn on four sheets of vellum joined together to make up a single 81.5 × 214 cm sheet. ‘Universalissima’ indicates the description of the whole then-known world, and ‘diligentissima’ the particular technical care employed by the cartographer. The map is attributed to Diego Ribeiro, head cartographer of the Casa de Contratación in Seville – the office of the Spanish Crown authorised to update the official nautical maps on the basis of the new geographical discoveries. It is of great interest in that it is the first document of this kind to visualize the theories of the sphericity of the Earth.
The Planisphere originated from an outstanding cultural milieu, producing maps destined to the control of trade with the Indies rather than to a popularisation of geographic knowledge. The maps signed by Ribeiro, of which this is among one the oldest examples, referred to a prototype called ‘Padrón Real’. The map was donated by Emperor Charles V to Baldassarre Castiglioni (1478-1529), author of the Cortegiano and apostolic nuncio; it remained the property of the Castiglioni family until 2000, when the Italian State acquired it to donate it to the Biblioteca Estense.
The world map has been placed in a specially made showcase and displayed in the Campori room of the Biblioteca Estense, together with other important objects relating to the history of cartography, on the occasion of the event 'Discovering the World. The Art of Cartography from Ptolemy to Mercator' (January-May 2002). The Castiglioni Planisphere was thoroughly studied by Ernesto Milano in his historical essay – completed by a transcription and identification of geographical names by Annalisa Battini – which forms the commentary of the facsimile edition, produced under the patronage of the Italian Ministry of Culture. The work, edited by Roberto Bini, is a joint publication Il Bulino/Biblioteca Estense Universitaria. The facsimile, in the same size as the original, the commentary (17 × 24 cm), and the certificate of authenticity are presented in a case of 83 × 16 × 16 cm. The exclusive worldwide printrun of 499 copies is individually numbered and certified.