Rainy weekend days in Rome, for me, are the perfect excuse to spend the afternoon leisurely strolling in an art gallery. And here in Rome, there’s really no shortage of museums, galleries, and palazzos (palazzi? pardon my plurals) to pop into.
Palazzo Doria Pamphilj is located right on the Corso, a short walk from the Trevi Fountain and steps away from the big ol’ Wedding Cake Vittoriano. It’s unassuming from the front- but once inside the perfectly manicured, lemon tree-speckled courtyard, you’re already clued into the fact that this place is going to be pretty luxe. (That is, if the name Pamphilj didn’t ring any bells yet- the same family that once owned the massive Villa Doria Pamphili, the largest public park in Rome.)
I decided to take a tour of the private apartments- which the family still apparently uses! It was a cute audio-guided tour that gives you access to the five private spaces. It’ll cost about 6 euro more in addition to the tickets to look around as the actors on the guide provide insight on the use of the rooms. While the audio acting was definitely on the cheesier side (it featuring the bickering spouse trope, c’mon…), it still was a nifty little way to see the personal side of the totally grand palace.
There were even personal effects scattered throughout. I particularly liked this charming photo that features “the Princess” in her youth. Amidst all the Pope portraits and opulence, a smiling photo that could be in my own grandmother’s house somehow made the space a bit more human, I suppose.
And of course, there’s the gallery. Caravaggio, Bernini, Velasquez, Carracci… The halls are lined with painting after painting.
It’s interesting to look at from the perspective of collecting and how wealthy patrons acquire art- and how a contemporary audience views it. For example, most people (in the US, at least) who have seen a Caravaggio painting have probably seen in it an encyclopedic art museum. The context suddenly changes when it’s just one of hundreds of paintings housed in a particular wing, on on a completely covered palace wall.
Then, there’s my own personal favorites housed here. Ancient Roman! And even more specifically my very favorite: sarcophagi. (My apologies to any gallery-goer that had to hear my loving signs as I ogled at this beauty.)
I mean, the seen of Selene and Endymion is spectacular carved in itself. But the scale? It. was. massive. And look at this detail.
Now that I’m done expressing my love for coffins, some other practical info to note about visiting:
- there’s a reduced price if you’re under 26! So make sure to get that if you’re eligible.
- located on the first floor is tea room/cafe. It was terribly crowded and busy when I went, and while the atmosphere was nice it was pretty pricey for a subpar cornetto
- audio guides for the museums are free, and there’s barely any signage so grab one if you want context for the art and the rooms
With the sound of rain against the palazzo finally ceasing, I wander back out into the late afternoon light. And while this picture has nothing to do with the the gallery, I couldn’t help but snap this perfectly Roman image before heading off to get some carbonara.