Thursday, July 7, 2011

Galleria Borghese

The Galleria Borghese is located in the middle of a large park called the Villa Borghese in northern Rome. It's a small museum, so pre-booking tickets is mandatory to visit it.  I had made our reservations a couple of weeks before, in a last burst of trip planning activity.

We took a little electric bus up to the museum, thanks to Ron in Rome, who has a beautiful blog with a focus on the transportation system.  And a great list of gelato places to visit, but that's for another post...

The museum itself was in a beautiful building in a corner of the park.  We had tickets for a timed entry from 3-5 pm.  That's it.  You entered at 3 pm and they herded the stragglers out right at 4:55 pm, so the next group of people (with the 5-7 pm tickets) could enter.  Oh and you had to store all your bags, including cameras, water, cell phones etc.

We were one of the last groups to leave, we spent every single minute in the museum and could easily have stayed longer.  It's especially known for a few key Bernini sculptures and some lovely Caravaggio paintings.  The girls really enjoyed it - with the Bernini's Apollo and Daphne sculpture being their favorite.  The audio guides made the art come alive with backstories and the calling out of particular details.  It turns out that Cardinal Scipione Borghese was not a very nice man - when he saw a painting that he especially liked, he would threaten the owner or artist with prison, unless the painting was turned over to him.  He did this a number of times!

I loved the trompe l'oeil ceilings in every room with paintings and backdrops linked to the themes of each room.  Alas, I couldn't capture this on film since I was camera-less, while the gift shop items did not focus on the ceilings.

After we were herded out of the museum, we rented a four person bike and spent a pleasant hour exploring the park grounds.

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