If you had to pick only one museum in Rome to visit, many of us would have a hard time deciding between the Vatican museums and one that is slightly less well-known, the Borghese Galleries. After being closed for seventeen years, the Borghese Galleries were recently reopened and the collection of art, primarily paintings and frescos as well as the villa that houses the museum is absolutely breathtaking.
The Borghese Galleries
There are no walk-in visits to the Borghese Galleries. You have to have a ticket to get in, and even then you’ll need to play your hand carefully. Visitors with tickets are only allowed into the museum every two hours, so don’t be late – err on the side of early caution. Once you’re inside, you’ll be able to climb a beautiful set of spiral stairs to reach the actual art.
At the top of the spiral staircase is a large salon where Giovanni Lanfranco painted a massive Jupiter, the king of the Roman gods, surrounded by the rest of the Olympians. There are many frescoes and wall decorations you’ll encounter on your trip through the villa, and as you walk, be sure to peek into every nook and cranny – this is an impressive villa built as an entertainment palace and showpiece in 1613 by Cardinal Scipione Borghese. The man himself was savvy to the point of being cruel to artists, but he had an amazing style that he put to use in the villa that now houses his art collection.
The amount of artistic genius in the Borghese Galleries is astonishing. There are works by many of the more prominent artists of Rome and throughout Italy including twin portraits of G. L. Bernini, Rome’s favorite artist, at least by many local accounts. Other works include those by Bernini, Jacopo Bassano, Pellegrino Tibaldi, Rubens, Titian and Badalocchio among many others.
Visiting the Borghese Galleries
To arrange a visit to the Borghese Galleries, you’ll arrange tickets before visiting. You are not allowed to carry anything into the museum, so leave all bags in the hotel or locked safely in the trunk of your car. In the basement of the villa, you’ll find the booth to pick up the tickets you’ve reserved by phone or over the internet. You can grab a guidebook here as well. Then go to the back of the building and you’ll wait with many others behind the velvet rope for your turn to enter the museum.