The Stanza dell' Incendio functioned as Pope Leo X’s private dining room, where he entertained family and friends. It was there that the Pope frequently dined with Leonardo da Vinci, who was Leo’s guest in the Vatican from 1513 until 1516.
The room is named after the fresco of the Fire in the Borgo (l'Incendio di Borgo), one of the four wall frescoes that were painted by members of Raphael's workshop between 1514 and 1517. The frescoes illustrate historical episodes in which the main protagonists are popes who took the name Leo.
The Fire in the Borgo celebrates the successful intercession of Pope Leo IV (r. 847-55) during a fire which raged through the Borgo, a populous district next to St Peter's Basilica. The fire, which broke out in the first year of the pope's reign, is documented in the Liber Pontificalis, a collection of biographies of popes. The group in the left foreground, made up of an old man on the shoulders of a young man, and a child, may be drawn from the Aeneid in which Aeneas escapes from burning Troy with his father Anchises and his son Ascanius.
The Battle of Ostia depicts an attack, in 849, on the Roman port of Ostia by an Arab fleet. The fleet was destroyed by a storm and we see Pope Leo IV, with the features of Pope Leo X, giving thanks.
Raphael retained the beautiful decoration of the vault, the work of his master Pietro Vannucci (c.1446-1523), much better known as il Perugino.