At a Glance Why You'll Love It
Tour Summary Get in the Know
Enjoy jaw-dropping art in the perfect setting
Nestling amid the greenery of Villa Borghese, the Borghese Gallery boasts one of the finest private art collections in the world. In the 17th century Cardinal Scipione Borghese assembled the "galleria" in his opulent garden villa, which provides the perfect setting for the Baroque and Renaissance blockbusters it houses. For the already devoted culture vulture, this is an unmissable jewel, but the villa contains enough stunning masterpieces to turn even the most philistine visitor into an art aficionado.
Cardinal Borghese himself was an avid art lover who would go to any length necessary to extend his collection of paintings and sculptures. You’ll be amazed by your guide’s stories of how Borghese stopped at nothing to get his hands on the inestimable masterpieces that to this day fill his namesake gallery to the brim. While we don’t endorse his unjust (and often illegal!) methods, one has to admire the relentless determination – and impeccable taste – it took to create this awe-inspiring treasure trove.
Admire the works of the great masters up-close
Though the Borghese Gallery may not be vast as many other museums in Rome, its sheer density of masterworks is enough to overwhelm even the most seasoned art connoisseur. And with the admission ticket being valid for only two hours, you truly need an expert to streamline the visit and ensure that you do not miss out on any of the real gems. Our engaging guides will lead you straight to the most essential pieces and unveil the incredible stories behind them (as well as let you in on the gossip on the larger-than-life characters who created them!).
Traveling in small groups of 8 guests or fewer, you won’t have to use your elbows to get up close and personal with the coveted classics on display. Marvel at sculptures by Bernini – so lifelike and animated that you’ll wonder how he could transform single blocks of marble into such incredible works of art. Take a close look at the face of David and study his tension and determination. Then check out the finger impressions in Proserpina’s legs as Pluto takes her to the underworld. Or, for an all-time “How did he do that?!” moment, study the statue of Apollo and Daphne to see her transforming into a laurel tree.
Go beyond the artworks and into the lives of the artists
In room VIII, we’ll give you the time to savor the renowned brush strokes (and characteristic "chiaroscuro" technique) of the Cardinal’s favorite Baroque bad-boy – Caravaggio. Every single one of the hyper realistic pictures is gawk-worthy, but we suggest you pay some special attention to David with the Head of Goliath. As Caravaggio was hoping to receive pardon for a murder he had committed, he wittily painted his own self-portrait on the decapitated head of Goliath and presented the painting to the Pope. Did the ingenious master plan work? We’ll tell you exactly how the story unraveled!
Unlike most other museums in the Eternal City, the Borghese Gallery limits the number of people admitted during each two-hour period, which means you’ll never have to worry about fighting crowds. So, seize the opportunity to admire the many masterpieces from every angle (and only inches away!) without being pushed or shoved, and take a moment to truly absorb the abundance of beauty surrounding you – because this is the way world-class art was meant to be experienced!
What You'll See Along the Way
Many of Bernini’s early works include sculptures with mythological themes, like this impressive piece from 1625. The sculpture was chiseled in traditional Baroque style – bombastic, dynamic and full of movement and flow. Bernini masterfully captured the exact moment in which Daphne began her transformation into a laurel tree; we can see roots stretching from the tips of her toes while branches and leaves sprout from her fingertips. The dramatic metamorphosis was the only way for the beautiful nymph to escape the relentless courtship of the god Apollo, who is pictured just catching up to her after a long chase.