Vanvitelli, the father of Italian view painting, was born Gaspar van Wittel at Amersfoort. Having studied under Mathias Withoos, he travelled to Rome where he is first recorded in 1675, and where he was to spend most of the rest of his life, apart from a few trips to northern Italy in the early 1690s, a stay in Naples in 1700 to 1701 and possibly other undocumented trips before circa 1730.
Briganti (loc. cit.) lists five versions of this view, including the present one. All differ in size: one is on copper and one, which is circular in format is tempera on vellum. The present picture has been extended horizontally by about 33.5 cm. to the upper edge, from a line just above the top of the Temple of Vesta. Without the addition, the composition would relate most closely to the version formerly with Boehler, Munich (bid., no. 243, 48 x 96 cm.) although this was of smaller width (as well as height) than the present picture. All the versions differ also in the figures situated just in front of the Temple of Vesta. Here two tourists are seen enjoying the view from the parapet while a monk looks on. Both this and the version in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore (ibid., no. 244, 35.7 x 46.4 cm.), show an artist seated on a rock below the Temple sketching the view.
In the centre of the painting can be seen the Bridge of San Martino, and, behind that on the left, part of the arch of the previous bridge that it replaced; the remains of the older bridge were washed away by flooding in 1726. To the left can be seen the bell-tower of Santa Maria del Ponte, built on the very edge of the gorge of the river, and beyond that is the ancient Valeria road, starting the climb towards the mountain of Catillo. On the right of the composition, situated high on the precipice overlooking the Aniene Falls, is the Temple of Vesta, which was designed by Lucius Gellius and built in circa 60 B.C. It was one of a number of temples on the ancient acropolis at Tivoli. The scene depicted here has greatly changed since the flood of 1826 after which the decision was made to change the course of the river.
Briganti (loc. cit.) states that this is the largest of the versions (addition notwithstanding) and dates it to the first decade of the eighteenth century.