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A famous Italian architect, b. 1500; d. 1572. He showed an inclination for mathematics and literature at a very early age, and afterwards studied drawing for civil and military architecture, under the direction of Giambattista Caporali, a Perugian architect and painter. At Rome he became a friend of Michael Angelo. He completed the fortress of Perugia, begun by Sangallo, built an apartment in it for the governor of the castle, and erected a number of palaces, regarded as the finest in the city. He resided in Genoa a number of years, engaged in the erection of various edifices, the laying-out of streets, and the restoration of the walls of the city. On the Carignano Hill he built the church of the Madonna. He repaired, restored, and embellished the cathedral and made designs for its tribune, choir, and cupola. His abilities were most conspicuous in his design for the harbour. He erected therein large gateway, flanked by rustic columns, and adorned the sea-front with a Doric portico, ingeniously defended by balustrades. This fortress-like work protected the city from within and without and had a spacious square for the military in the interior. He also extended the mole more than 600 paces into the sea, and left a number of designs and models which have been at various times executed by the rich nobles of that city. These and similar splendid edifices have obtained for Genoa the title of La Superba (The Proud). Alessi executed many works at Ferrara. At Bologna he erected the great gate of the Palazzo Publico. He finished the palace of the Institute according to the design of Pellegrino Tibaldi, and made plans for the facade of San Petronio. At Milan he built the church of San Vittore, the whimsical auditorium del Cambio, and the facade of San Celso, and greatly distinguished himself by the erection of the magnificent palace of Tommaso Marini, Duke of Torre Nuova. He also designed edifices in Naples and Sicily, France, Germany, and Flanders. The King of Spain sent for him to execute some buildings, which, however, are not known, and after some period of time permitted him to return to Perugia, laden with riches and honours. He was received by his fellow-citizens with the most flattering expressions of regard, was admitted into the Scuola di Commerzio; and was sent to Pope Pius V on a commission involving public interest. On his return to his own country he was requested by Cardinal Odoardo Farnese to submit a design for the facade of the Gesu at Rome, so expensive, that it was never executed. For the Duke della Corgna he built the stately palace of Castiglione on the Lake of Peerugia, and for the Cardinal, brother of the Duke, he erected another on a hill a few miles from the city. In conjunction with Giulio Danti, a Perugian architect, he was employed in the erection of the church on the Madonna degli Angeli, near Assisi, built after the design of Vignola. Finally, Alessi submitted to the Spanish Court a design for the monastery and church of the Escorial (q.v.) in Spain. It was considered the best among plans submitted in a general competition by all the architects of Europe, and he was requested to execute it, but age and indisposition prevented him. Alessi was learned, agreeable in conversation, and capable of negotiating the most important affairs.
Milizia, Lives of Celebrated Architects; Gewitt, Encyclopedia of Architecture.
THOMAS H. POOLE