The Delights of The Galleria Borghese

What I know about art could fit on the head of a teeny tiny pin. If you had mentioned Bernini to me before last week I might have thought you were offering me a cocktail. Okay, maybe I’d heard of Bernini, but only because I read Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons before our trip. Caravaggio, for me, was the name of a character in The English Patient about whom I read with a nagging thought in my head that I’d heard that name somewhere before. So, you see, I am a philistine. But slightly less of one after our visit to the Galleria Borghese.

Since we were staying on Via Veneto it was just a short walk to the lovely Villa Borghese Gardens, which reminded us a bit of a diminutive Central Park. As we walked up a leafy path, the seventeenth-century villa where Cardinal Scipione Borghese hung his hat and amassed an astonishing art collection came into view.

Galleria Borghese

Galleria Borghese

Here is a peek at a few of the enchantments within:

Don't forget to look up! The ceiling in The Room of the Emperors.

Don’t forget to look up! The ceiling in The Room of the Emperors.


I'm not the only philistine in the room. Caravaggio's head of Goliath is a self-portrait.

I’m not the only philistine in the room. Caravaggio’s head of Goliath is a self-portrait.


How did Bernini do it? He literally makes the marble look like flesh in The Rape of Proserpina.

How did Bernini do it? He literally makes the marble look like flesh in The Rape of Proserpina.


Possibly my favorite Bernini of all: David (wikipedia image) was completed when Bernini was only twenty-four years old.

Possibly my favorite Bernini of all: David (wikipedia image) was completed when Bernini was only twenty-four years old.


These ceilings alone are worth the trip to Rome.

These ceilings alone are worth the trip to Rome.


Detail from a sarcophagus depicting the Labours of Hercules. (polloplayer image)

Detail from a sarcophagus depicting the Labours of Hercules. (polloplayer image)


And yes, I found a rooster!

And yes, I found a rooster!


Cardinal Scipio's vivarium where he kept peacocks, swans and ostriches. (polloplayer image)

Cardinal Scipio’s vivarium where he kept peacocks, swans and ostriches. (polloplayer image)

It was truly one of the highlights of our time in Rome. But it is easy to miss because it is small and only admits a limited number of visitors at any time. Visits are limited to two hours and tickets must be purchased in advance; the day we visited scores of people were turned away and the gallery was completely sold out for five days hence.

When you arrive, you must go to the ticket line to exchange your voucher. We made the mistake of thinking our voucher was the ticket. Silly Americans, right? Back to the end of the line we went. Oh, and one more line for checking even the smallest handbag. If you can, leave yours behind the day you visit. All those lines (and all the stairs) are a pox, but it is absolutely worth it!

I emerged transformed from the Galleria Borghese – well, at least I now know a Bernini from a Bellini. We decided to stop on the walk home at the fabled Harry’s Bar to order one of those and toast our fabulous visit to Rome. We are having SO MUCH FUN!

Another must-see in Rome: Harry's Bar

Another must-see in Rome: Harry’s Bar

About polloplayer

Empty nester searching for meaning of life through the occasional chicken epiphany.
This entry was posted in Big Fun, Music/Art/Literature/Culture, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Delights of The Galleria Borghese

  1. Jean Gutsche says:

    Wow!!! What an amazing place!!!!

  2. polloplayer says:

    CE here: The Villa B was certainly a highlight of our Rome stay, and the CCL’s photos and description easily show that. The Bernini’s were all life-like and expressive. How someone can start with a huge block of stone, a hammer and a chisel and end up with these works is beyond my comprehension. Wonderful experience, and Harry’s Bar was a great way to end it. Italia rules!

  3. Katherine says:

    Before age 24 you say? Certainly pre-TV and assorted plugged-in/wireless gadgets distracted us all. Think of the time one had to channel their energies into such creativity. (Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.) All so beautiful – thank you again for sharing. Your photos and descriptions make me feel as though I’m there.

  4. Julia says:

    I think your next project should be the Via Bendita Vivarium! Just need a few more fowl friends!

  5. Ishita says:

    I went to the Harry’s Bar in Venice didn’t know there was one in Rome too 😀

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