The Queen of Private Collections
The Galleria Borghese, which is set in the large public Villa Borghese park, was born in the 16th century as the collection of Scipione Borghese, a powerful Cardinal and nephew to Pope Paul V. The Cardinal amassed an enormous number of ancient sculptures, many of which are displayed on the ground floor where several Bernini statues and Caravaggio canvases also appear. The upper story, on the other hand, is home to Renaissance and Baroque paintings. Seek out Titian's Sacred and Profane Love, Raphael's Deposition, and Cranach's Venus and Cupid. Unlike other collections of the era, which were kept in private palaces, the Borghese collection was intended to be open to the public, much like the surrounding grounds known as the Villa Borghese. The family collection is now property of the Italian state. Due to its dimensions and popularity, visits are limited to a fixed number of visitors every two hours and for a maximum of two hours. Be sure to book tickets well in advance and don't bothering going to the museum without a booking.
By Katie Parla, AFAR Local Expert
Borghese Gallery and Museum
If you only have time for one Rome museum, make it this one. Once the private party space for Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the 17th-century palace is a work of art in itself. Its 20 rooms are filled with works by Bernini, Caravaggio, Titian and Raphael—but don't forget to look out of the windows onto the attached gardens. These were once used as outside rooms to cultivate rare trees and plants. Advance ticket purchase is required.
By Gillian Longworth McGuire, AFAR Local Expert
Piazzale Scipione Borghese, 5, 00197 Roma RM, Italy
+39 06 841 3979
Tue - Sun 9am - 7pm