Are you visiting Rome? Do you have a limited amount of time to spare?
Instead of going to the Vatican, book a visit to the Galleria Borghese. This art gallery packs its treasures into a smaller facility and limits the number of visitors. Say goodbye to being suffocated by the 30,000 people who enter the Vatican Museums daily, and truly take the time to appreciate some of the most famous sculptures in all of Rome. I personally think the Galleria Borghese’s 20 rooms are much more manageable than the Vatican’s 11,000 rooms. Yeah, you read that right.
The Galleria Borghese was previously a 17th century palace and summer entertainment (party) house for the noble Borghese family. Today, it belongs to the Italian state and features sculptures from ancient Roman times, Renaissance paintings from the fifteenth to eighteenth century, and floor mosaics from the Colosseum. Oh, and just like the Galleria Doria Pamphili (my guide here), the building itself is a work of art. If classical sculptures aren’t your thing, just look up. The ceilings are decorated with intricate scenes from Roman mythology.
Can you imagine throwing a ball in a room like this?!
The most famous work of art is Bernini's Rape of Prosperina (shown in my first photo), and while the name is rather jarring, this sculpture is incredible. Just look at Prosperina's leg... Bernini carved a block of marble into something that resembles skin, and photos don't do it justice. He completed this sculpture at the ripe age of 23. I don't know about you, but I know I certainly won't have accomplished even half of that by the time I turn 23.
My favorite sculpture in this gallery is the Venus Victrix (pictured below). Antonio Canova made this masterpiece with Napoleon Bonaparte's sister, Pauline, as his muse. Some say she was the most beautiful woman in the world. It was completed in 1808. While this sculpture is absolutely magnificent, just remember (ladies, I'm talking to you!) that it isn't 100% accurate. The Venus is an idealized version of Pauline's figure.
Other famous artists whose works are featured in this exhibit include Raffaello, Tiziano, Correggio, and Caravaggio.
PS: The Galleria Borghese is located inside of the Villa Borghese gardens - the biggest park in Rome. Remember how I said the Galleria would take two hours? Perhaps, if you have time leftover, you must take a walk through the park. More on this beloved spot later.
Ready to book your spot? Click here to reserve a time. I will suggest that you book early (and arrive early), as only 360 people can enter during a two hour slot! Although, if you visited during January, it's possible to waltz right in.
Address: Piazzale del Museo Borghese 00197 Rome
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday - 8:30 am until 7:00 pm
Ticket price: 13 euros (includes a guided tour, Wi-Fi, and bag storage)
On a final note, I am in no way dissing the Vatican. If you visit Rome, it is silly not to visit. I'm just saying that my attention span isn't big enough to remember and appreciate all the artifacts in there, which is why I found the Galleria Borghese so much more enjoyable.
Have you ever heard of the Galleria Borghese? Let me know in the comments section below!