If one single space encapsulates the Roman Empire, it would be Palazzo Massimo, Rome’s multilevel museum housing one of Italy’s richest collections of antiquities. The entire history of Rome, from the rise of the Republic to its imperial transition to its fall, is told through sculpture, mosaic, frescoes (watercolor paintings), and coins. Get to know generations of emperors by checking out their marble busts, then hang out in the 1st-century Villa of Livia dining room of Caesar Augustus’s wife. Note: Palazzo Massimo is part of the National Museum circuit, which means ticket holders can also access three more national museums (Terme di Diocleziano, Palazzo Altemps, and the Crypta Balbi) over a three-day period.
Boxer at Rest
At the Museo Nazionale Romano - Palazzo Massimo alle Terme is the Pugilist. He’s a Hellenistic bronze sculpture from the 4th century BC and he is stunning. The details of the gloves on his hands and the look of exhaustion...and possibly defeat...on his face brings me back year after year.
Livia's Garden Room
In the Museo Nazionale Romano are the four walls from Livia’s (wife of Emperor Augustus) garden room. The windowless room of frescoes, painted around the 1st Century B.C., was partly submerged to keep it cool. It’s easy to spend hours looking at the elaborate paintings of the spring-like scene and imagine the wife of an Emperor enjoying an escape from the heat.