My true intention on our Rome getaway was to eat, sleep and eat again, with maybe a little family time thrown in. As fate would have it, a meeting with Rachel, the social media manager for LivItaly Tours made for a slight deviation from the plan. Finding out that we were scheduled to be in the eternal city, we finagled tickets to the Borghese gallery in exchange for a review. Boy, was l glad we went. It was the highlight of our Rome trip. As photography and art lovers, we were in heaven. The masterpieces contained in this Borghese museum are magnificent. I am excited to share some of my favorites with you.
Borghese Gallery with Livitaly:
We met up with our reps from Livitaly at 5pm on a hot July day. One of the wonderful things about Livitaly is that they limit their tour size to 6 people. Just 6! . This made the tour more personal. Nothing irks me more than having to look for those little flags and watching tour guides trying to cope with a group of 50 or more :-) . Our group of 6 consisted of us two, and a family visiting from the States. Everyone was punctual, and off we went. Our tour guide was Andrea, a very efficient and capable man. He led us downstairs where we deposited our handbags etc. for safe keeping. From there, we went to the gallery directly after fitting us with head phones to we could hear him speak. It was hardly needed, but was nice to have, especially when l lingered a bit. Getting there, make sure to walk through the Borghese gardens and watch the locals and tourists alike enjoying the space and taking canoe rides on the beautiful lake.
Borghese Gallery Rome Masterpieces:
Borghese Gallery and Museum History:
This Borghese gallery was originally the home of Cardinal Scipione Borghese, a very rich man who also happened to be a nephew to Pope John Paul V. He commissioned building of this estate which is on the outskirts of Rome to an architect by the name of Flaminio Ponzio. Not only was the cardinal evidently a lover of art, the house design was based on his sketches. Seeing the rooms, it’s obvious that he was a man of great taste. The gallery was established in 1903.
I felt a bit smug when l saw people with bags being turned back at the entrance and we just breezed in. Another good thing about being with someone who knows the lay of the land ;-). All through the tour which lasted 2 hours, Andrea showed us some of the most important pieces in the museum. Trust me, there is so much to see, so much so, that it’s impossible to see it all in the maximum time of two hours allowed by the gallery. Being with Livitaly tours, we were able to see the most astounding works by the Bernini, Titian, Caravaggio and others. Here are some of my most favorite pieces:
Rape of Persephone at Borghese Gallery Rome:
According to Greek mythology, Persephone was the daughter of Zeus. Hades kidnapped her and took her to the Underworld against her will. This is one of the most impressive sculptures by the genius Gian Lorenzo Bernini. If you’ve been to the Vatican, you’ve seen his handiwork at the Piazza San Pietro when you look up and see those awesome sculptures of the saints all along the top. This was one of his works that was commissioned by the Cardinal. Andrea encouraged us to look deeper at the sculptured marble. On closer examination, you notice the anguish and tears in her eyes, you notice how his hands are digging into her flesh. It’s incredible that such detail is accomplished using marble! Even more incredible is the fact that he used a single slab of marble for each work. No joining parts for him!
David at Borghese Gallery:
Another one by Bernini. Everyone is familiar with the story of David and Goliath. This sculpture shows David about to fire at the giant. I love the look of intensity on his face.
Apollo and Daphne at the Borghese Museum:
Cupid has shot Apollo with his arrow and he is mesmerized with Daphne. She on the other hand, has been shot by Cupid’s love repelling arrow and hates all men. She prays to her father to curse the beauty that attracts him. He changes her to a tree. To say this piece is breathtaking would be putting it mildly. You see how she changes and is half woman and half tree while he has the lovelorn look on his face. Incredible.
Madonna and Child at Borghese Rome:
This is by the artist Bellini. I stood a while looking at this painting as l just loved the simplicity of it. They both look so innocent. I think that was the point.
Madonna and child and Snake at Galleria Borghese:
I confess that I’ve always had a thing for Caravaggio. To me, he was the original bad ass :-) . Brawler, murderer, vandal. Sentenced to death for murder, he escaped to Malta. The Knights of Malta welcomed him for a while. We saw one of his major pieces there in Valletta. A violent brawl made him a fugitive once again and he escaped to Sicily. He was only 38 when he died two years later.
There was just so much more to see. It is entirely possible to stay for a day and not fully see everything. Here are some more great ones.
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What made this visit even more enjoyable for me were the golden nuggets of information courtesy of Andrea. Things you wouldn’t know by visiting on your own. Little tidbits about the Cardinal and the various ways he went about acquiring some of his art. What a scroundrel! ;-) . Pauline Bonaparte and her marble sculpture by Antonio Canova. I still smile at her saucy reply when asked how she could pose nude. It certainly made it worth while.
Here is Andrea telling us about the painting Sacred and Profane Love by Titian, one of the greatest Italian artists.
Related Reading: Tivoli trip from Rome
Don’t forget to look up when you tour the Borghese gallery. You don’t want to miss any ceiling fresco at one of the best museums to visit in Rome, such as this gorgeous one.
All too soon, our Borghese tour came to an end. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and l thank Andrea for being a wonderful guide. I would recommend this Livitaly tour whenever you visit Rome. Federico, Roman, born and bred, had never visited. Goes to show how easy it is to take your home for granted, doesn’t it ? You can find out more information on the tour here Needless to say, you can make your Villa Borghese reservation directly on there. You won’t be sorry and another visit to the Borghese gallery in Rome is a must for us.
Tips for visiting Rome Borghese Gallery and Museum:
- Tour with a knowledgeable guide and small group such as conducted by Livitaly
- Wear comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking from room to room
- Leave yourself at least 2 hours for the tour which shows you the best pieces, but consider coming back to not only see the art, but to enjoy the Borghese park and gardens. It’s huge!
- Pack light, a small handbag if needed. Remember you have to check in your belongings.
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Have you been to Rome? What do you think of the Borghese gallery and tour? Does it look like a museum you would like to visit? Are you an art lover like us?