When it comes to art museums, the Villa Borghese is in a league of its own.
Imagine a palace that was specifically built to house amazing works of art. Its twenty rooms are treasure troves of visual splendor: every wall holds a masterpiece, every pedestal supports exquisitely carved marble, and even the ceilings sing with divine frescoes. Well, you don’t have to imagine it because this is a description of the Galleria Borghese, Rome’s most exclusive and intimate art museum. Built in the 17th century by Cardinal Scipione Borghese specifically to house his magnificent art collection, it was once only open to royals and visiting dignitaries. Today, it lets in groups at two-hour intervals (with pre-reserved tickets) to ensure that its 20 rooms of masterpieces are never overcrowded.
Once inside, your expert, English-speaking guide will lead you on a highlight tour of the collection, showing you well-known works like Bernini’sApollo and Daphne, Rape of Proserpina, and David; Caravaggio’s St. John the Baptist; and Canova’s Pauline Bonaparte; along with lesser-known gems like Raphael’s Lady with a Unicorn; and Bassano’s The Last Supper.
Along the way you will be able to indulge in one of the rarest aesthetic pleasures: Seeing great art in the setting that it was meant to be seen in. Before public art museums this was how the luckiest people in Europe viewed paintings and sculptures and it’s frankly fantastic.
What they often didn’t have was an expert, English-speaking guide to help interpret and give context to the art. Yours brings an incredible passion to the proceedings and will inform you of all the backstories that lend each work depth and nuance. From the quirks of Cardinal Borghese to the heartbreaking story of the commissioning of Raphael’s The Deposition, this is a journey through art like none you have taken before.