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