The Campagna, the lowland plain that surrounds Rome in the Lazio (Latium) region of central Italy, occupies an area of about eight hundred square miles (2,100 square km). This region was a frequent subject for painters. Robert Macpherson himself made bucolic painted views of the Campagna before turning to the camera for this representation.
The ruins that march across the rolling countryside are the remains of the Roman aqueduct built by the Emperor Claudius. Its abandoned, crumbling arches contrast with the signs of an active farming life in the foreground. Although Macpherson rarely included people in his photographs, the human presence is evident on the well-worn Via Appia Nuova, the ancient Roman road winding its way into and quickly out of the frame at the lower right corner. The farmhouse at the center right edge represents more current evidence of human activity. In his highly detailed rendering, Macpherson represented the coexistence of the historical past and present.