There are many wonderful museums and galleries in Rome, all worthy of seeing if one has the time. Remember, though much of Rome shuts down during the month of August for vacation, most museums and galleries remain open. You should always check with the most current travel guide of your choice in case hours of operation have changed. They are listed below according to subject matter: religious museums, military museums, archaeological museums, science museums, medieval and modern museums, and particular museums. The Vatican Museums are listed under The Vatican and Environs on its own page. Hours of operation and days open sometimes change without notice, as do phone numbers, so it is very important for you to confirm this information before visiting each museum or gallery. The admission charge, if any, also changes, and since I do not live in Rome, it is very difficult for me to keep admission charges up to date. If I am aware that there is an admission charge, I will indicate “Admission charge”. Some travel guides (such as Frommer’s and Eyewitness Travel Guide) lists admission charges for the current year. Also, as the years go by, more and more museums and galleries also have web sites, or other web sites that feature information on current events and/or current price information so you might want to check the Internet as well. Some of the items I believe are well worth viewing in each of the museums/galleries are listed below and will be added to periodically as I discover new things. Lists of works worth seeing does not by any means constitute a complete listing of all the magnificent works of art on exhibit in any of these museums and galleries. They are listed as important works worth considering, and/or are some of my favorites.
Museum of the Souls of the Dead, Lungotevere Prati, Tel. 654.05.17. Open same time as that of the Church of Santo Cuore del Suffragio, a.m.-12:30pm, and 5p-7p, when the church is open. This church has been rarely open whenever I have tried to go inside, so it is on a hit-and-miss basis. This museum is housed in a room next to the neogothic church in the Prati section of Rome. It was established in about 1889-90 when, in 1887, Victor Janet (a priest) started to collect fabrics, clothes, frocks, breviaries, bibles, night-shirts, skull caps, and wooden tablets fire-marked by the hands of the dead to prove to the living their supernatural existence. Relics are displayed in showcases. First is a face of a soul in purgatory printed on a wall. Handprints of the dead left on fabrics and clothing are still very visible. A unique museum if you have extra time to explore.
Permanent Exhibition of the Jewish Community of Rome, Synagogue, Lungotevere Cenci, 15. Tel. 06/6840.06.61. Mon.-Thurs. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Fri. 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Admission charge. This was established in 1963 and is within the walls of the Synagogue on the first floor. The Synagogue was finished in 1904 and was built over the ruins of the old ghetto. It was built to the design of architects Nino Costa and Osvaldo Armanni. Of special interest is the grand seat of the Prophet Elijah used for the circumcision rite (1870). Other items of interest are photographic reproductions of codexes and manuscripts along with numerous original documents illustrating the relations between Italian Jews and the state; documentation of Nazi occupation (No. 27). In No. 127 are half crowns, basins, and lamps. There are also bound prayer books on display, the first of which has a tooled silver cover of the late 18th century. Keys for the ark and other liturgical objects as well as Berachot (blessings) written on parchment for a certain Ester Meghillar (18th century).
Museum of the Catacombs of St. Sebastian, via Appia Antica, 136. Tel. 785.03.50. Winter hours: 8:30am-noon; 2:30pm-5pm. Summer: 8:30am-noon; 2:30pm-5:30pm. Thursday closed. Admission charge. Children under five are free. This museum holds the “Memoria Apostolarum” and tomb of Sebastian the Martyr, in addition to inscriptions and tombstones from the excavations.
Museum and Picture Gallery of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, Piazzale S. Paolo, Tel. 541.03.41. 9a-1p; 3p-6p. Closed Sundays. Admission charge. Contains a collection of Christian inscriptions and tombstones from the burial grounds at Ostia. Some medieval frescoes depicting various popes. Has a large collection of sarcophagi, inscriptions, architectural fragments, tombstones and other items from the nearby Romano-Christian cemetery, that is on exhibit in the cloister … a must see if you are there anyway.
Museum of St. Pancras, Piazza di S. Pancrazio, 5.d, Basilica di S. Pancrazio. Tel. 581.04.58. Visit upon request. This museum is located in the sacristy of the church and contains artifacts that were in the ancient fifth century basilica; sculptured, epigraphic, lapidary material as well as various sarcophagi.
Franciscan Museum, Istituto Storico dei Cappuccini, Circonvallazione Occidentale 6850 (Grande Raccordo Anulare km. 65). Tel. 625.19.61. Admission charge; open by appointment only. The main focal point of the Museo Francescano. Of special interest is an engraving printed on parchment by Gillis van Schoor, hand-colored during the first half of the 17th century of St. Francis Changing Water Into Wine; a beautiful plate depicting St. Anthony of Padua; a painting on wood by F. Bril in 1583 entitled, Stigmatization of St. Francis. Quite a few rooms to explore with spectacular paintings including small paintings on copper.
Museum of the Historical Chamber, via S. Giovanni Decollato, 22. Church of S. Giovanni Decollato. Tel. 678.94.48. Open on the 24th of June only. Admission charge. A macabre museum containing a collection of registers of the executed, baskets for the heads of those decapitated, large knives for cutting nooses, ropes, bags and hoods. Gruesome to some extent, but interesting.
Museum of St. John Lateran, Basilica di S. Giovanni in Laterano. Tel. 698.64.33. Open daily 9am-1pm and 3pm-6pm. Admission charge. The treasures of the basilica are in the Room of Piux IX. Also, a wonderful fresco by Raphael.
Museum of St. Vincent and Anastasius, vicolo dei Modelli, 73. Tel. 678.30.98. Open same times as the church. This is an underground chapel that holds the physical remains of 22 popes, from Sistus V to Leo XIII. Check out the facade of the church believed to be by Longhi.
Historical Museum of the Carabinieri, via Cola di Rienzo, 294. Tel. 653.06.96. Every day except Mon. 8:30am-noon. Admission charge. This museum was officially set up in 1925 after World War I. It was officially opened in its present home in 1937. Quite a few rooms to ramble through with many paintings depicting various victories and battles.
Museum of Navy Flags, located on the left-hand side of the Victor Emanuel Monument. Weekdays 9:30am-1:30pm. Admission charge. Three huge adjoining rooms that contain very large exhibits: an anchor for blocking a port, the “MAS 15” of Luigi Rizzo; and a large fragment of plating belonging to the submarine “Scire”, etc.; also, flag boxes and flags of the most famous Italian warships, beginning with the frigate “G. Garibaldi” (1860-1894). An inlaid ivory chest that contains the flag given to the ship “Sicilia” in 1896 by the women of Sicily is especially interesting.
Historical Museum of the Liberation of Rome, via Tasso, 145. Tel. 755.38.66. Sat. 4pm-7pm; Sun. 10am-1pm. Library open Sat. 4pm-7pm. Admission charge. This museum is housed in a building that previously held the cultural section of the German Embassy in Rome, and that became notorious after September 8, 1943, when it was chosen as the headquarters of the SS High Command under H. Kappler. In January of 1944, part of the building was made into a prison and all of the cells that were formerly bedrooms, kitchens and cubbyholes, were bricked up with only small ventilation holes left above the doors and has been left in that state. Quite interesting.
Historical Museum of the Grenadiers of Sardinia, Piazza S. Croce in Gerusalemme, 7. Tel. 756.657. Tues., Thurs., Sat. 10am-noon. Admission charge. This museum is in a small building next to the Brigade’s old headquarters, started in 1903. Contains historical documents, paintings, weapons, sculptures, and curios that illustrate the varied history of this Corps dating from 1659.
Historical Museum of Revenue Officers, Piazza Armellini, 20. Tel. 428.841. Weekdays 9am-noon. Admission charge. Inaugurated in 1937. Sections are dedicated to the origins, to the Risorgimento, the Great War, the Libyan War, the Abyssinian War, and World War II. There is also a shrine to the memory of fallen members of the Corps.
Historical Infantry Museum, Piazza S. Croce in Gerusalemme, 9. Tel. 778.524. Weekdays 9am-noon. Admission charge. This museum was set up after World War II, in 1948. Of interest is a small chapel on the first floor with a bronze group by sculptor Edmondo Furlan depicting Christ on the Cross and Two Infantry Men. Very moving.
Historical Museum of the Bersaglieri, Gatehouse of Porta Pia. Tel. 486.723. Tues. and Thurs. 9am-1pm. Guided visits also on the other weekdays, except Sundays, on request, same visiting hours. Admission charge. The gatehouse was constructed on the orders of Pius IV to Michelangelo’s design between 1561-64 at the old Nomentana Gate that opened in the Aurelia Wall. After the Tower over the gate collapsed, Pope Pius IX commissioned architect Virgilio Vespignani to restore the monument in 1852. Wonderful general’s helmets and berets from the period of King Umberto’s reign are worth seeing. There is also a shrine in honor of over 100,000 Bersaglieri who gave their lives for Italy, from the Goito bridge in 1848 to the slopes of the Apennines in 1945. Many paintings, sketches, photographs, documents, and military relics from the Wars of Independence as far back as 1848. At the end of the exhibition is a room devoted to the 187 Medals for individual military valour awarded to members of the Corps of the Bersaglieri.
Museum of the Historical and Cultural Institute of Engineers Corps, Lungotevere della Vittoria, 31. Civilian tel. 359.54.46. Military tel. 35637. Weekdays 9am-1pm. Sun and Hol. closed. Admission charge. Interesting museum. Of interest is the coherer of the Marconi radio-telegraph station (Marconi was an officer of the Engineers). Room 20 contains an iconographic collection of St. Barbara and the Archangel Gabriel.
Historical Museum of Military Vehicles, Military City of Cecchignola 86, viale dell’Esercito. Tel. 501.18.85 Caserma Rossetti. Open 9am-noon and 2pm-4pm except Sat., Sun. and Hol. Admission charge. Contains rare artifacts of historical importance, including a Fiat car used by King Victor Emanuel III when visiting the front lines during World War I.
Villa Giulia National Museum, Piazzale di Villa Giulia, 9. Tel. 320.19.51. Tues.-Fri. 9am-7pm; Sat. 9 am-11 pm, Sun. 9am-8 pm. Closed Monday. Admission charge; children under 18 and seniors over 60 free. The Museum is housed in the Villa of Pope Julius III, or Villa Giulia. In one of the courtyards is a reconstructed Etrusco-Italic Temple of Alatri. Of special interest is a clay statue of Apollo of Vejo, end of the 6th century B.C.; the Sarcophagus of the Newlyweds, from Caere, end of the 6th century B.C.; The Chigi Oinochoe, from Formello (640-625 B.C.), and earrings in a beauty-case from the end of the 6th century B.C.
Forum Antiquarium, Piazza S. Maria Nuova, 53. Tel. 679.03.33. 9am-one hour before sunset. Closed Tues., Sun., Holidays. Ticket to Roman Forum valid here. Six rooms. Created at the turn of the century by Giocomo Boni. Set up in the Convent of S. Maria Nuova. Contains findings from various zones of the Forum as well as bones of animals and domestic remains from the wells at the Temple of Vesta from the 9th to 7th centuries B.C. Clothes found in tombs of the sepulchretum (archaic necropolis). Architectural and sculptural fragments and sculpture from the Fons Juturnae, Imperial portraits, and epigraphs. Very interesting and worth seeing while visiting the Forum.
Barracco Museum, via dei Baullari, 1. Tel. 06/688.068.48, Tues.-Sat. 9am-7pm, Sun. 9am-1pm, Closed Monday. Admission charge. Houses the personal collection of Barone Giovanni Barracco, given to the City of Rome by him in 1902 in addition to the building that housed the collection at the time. In 1948, the collection was moved to “The Piccola Farnesina” built by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, where it is still exhibited. There is everything from Egyptian sphinxes to a Christian sarcophagus of the 4th century; also the famed sculpture by Lysippus, The Wounded Bitch.
Archaeological Museum Ostia, located at the excavations of ancient Ostia outside Rome. Tel. 565.00.22. Open 9am-4:30pm. Admission charge. Located in the old “Casone del Sale” (Salt House). Converted to a museum in 1865-66 by Pius IX. Reliefs in terracotta, decorative terracotta from the area of the Republican castrum, a room devoted to Oriental cults found at Ostia, a room with Roman copies of Greek originals. Greek and Italic red-figure pottery. Roman portraitures and a room dedicated to Guido Calza. Another room is dedicated to housing sarcophagi, a room devoted to the decor in opus sectile from the building outside Porta Marina, and a room devoted to paintings and mosaics.
Museum of Etruscan and Italic Remains, University City, Faculty of Letters, Dept. of Historical, Archaeological, and Anthropological Sciences of Antiquity, Tel. 495.32299. Admission for study purposes only, special permission required. Contains a large quantity of material from the “Etruscan Art and Civilization Exhibition” held in Milan in 1955 and of the Gorga Collection. It was inaugurated on August 9, 1962. It is closely associated with the Museum of the Origins and the Museum of Plaster Casts.
Museum of Roman Civilization, Piazza G. Angelli (E.U.R.), Tel. 592.61.35, Tues.-Sat. 9am-12:30pm; Thurs. also 4pm-7pm, Sun. 9am-1pm. Closed Monday. Admission charge. This museum was created under the name of Museo dell’Impero Romano in 1927 with material that had figured in the Archaeological Exhibition at the Baths of Diocletian in 1911. It has 59 rooms that exhibit a large number of reproductions (casts, models, drawings, and photographs). Monuments and works of art from all the provinces of Rome. Of special interest is a model of a single-oared warship, a model of an apartment building in ancient Ostia Antica, and a model of the Colosseum.
Museum of Plaster Casts, same address as the Museum of Etruscan and Italic Remains above; admission for study purposes only, special permission required. Contains more than 1,000 plaster casts of Greek sculptures dating from the Archaic period to the late Hellenistic period. Of interest is a statue of Group of Tyrannicides (Crisius and Nesiote) (477-476 B.C.).
Capitoline Museum, Piazza del Campidoglio. Tel. 06/671.02.071. Tues.-Sun. 9am-7pm. Closed Mondays. Admission includes entrance to Palazzo Conservatori; Admission charge; free last Sunday of the month.
Capitoline Museum: A very interesting museum indeed, and contains the oldest public collection in the world, one well worth visiting. Of interest is the famous sculpture, The Dying Gaul. There are many sculptures in the Atrium including a statue of Minerva, Emperor Hadrian in Pontifical robes, and Faustina the Elder, a copy from the 5th century B.C.
The ground floor is devoted to the Oriental Cults and include fragments of Roman calendars, and the Alexander Severus Sarcophagus of the 3rd century B.C. The courtyard opposite has a huge statue of Mars Ultor, restored as Pyrrhus; a staircase leads to the first floor gallery. Important works here are Leda and the Swan, 4th century B.C.; a large Krater set on a well-head from Hadrian’s Villa; and the infant Hercules Strangling the Hydra. Next is the Hall of Emperors, that contain an enormous amount of busts of Roman Emperors, the majority of which came from the collection of Cardinal Albani. Of importance is Commodus as a Young Man. In the middle of the room is a seated figure of Helena, the mother of Constantine.
The Hall of Philosophers contains busts of philosophers, poets, and orators. Of interest are busts of Socrates, Homer, Cicero, and Lisia. In the following Hall, the centerpiece are statues of the Young and Old Centaurs from Hadrian’s Villa in grey marble. They are signed by Aristeas and Papias of Aphrodisia, artists of the time of Hadrian.
In the Hall of the Faun, of interest is The Boy With a Mask of Silenus from the first part of the Imperial period, and The Boy With a Goose, from the 2nd century B.C. original. In the Hall of the Dying Gaul is the famed statue of The Dying Gladiator (or The Dying Gaul) (see photo).
The Hall of the Doves (its name comes from the famous mosaic of Four Doves Drinking From a Vase that came from Hadrian’s Villa) contains mosaic of masks and sarcophagus of a child. Also, the Cabinet with the famous Capitoline Venus, a Roman copy of the early Hellenistic original.
Palazzo dei Conservatori: the entrance court contains the fragmented remains of the Statue of Constantine. In the opposite portico is the Head of Constantius II, that was another colossal statue. There are also reliefs on the walls depicting the provinces conquered by Rome.
On the first landing of the staircase are four grandiose reliefs from the 2nd century A.D., three of which (Marcus Aurelius Sacrificing in Front of the Temple of Capitoline Jupiter; Triumph of Marcus Aurelius, Marcus Aurelius Pardoning His Conquered Enemies) come from the arch dedicated to Marcus Aurelius. The fourth depicts Hadrian’s Entry Into Rome. The Hall of Captains contains frescoes portraying episodes of the history of republican Rome by Tommaso Laureti and contain five statues of Captains of the Church (Marcantonio Colonna, Alessandro Farnese, Carlo Barberini, Gianfrancesco Aldobrandini, and Tommaso Rospigliosi).
In the center of the Hall of the Triumphs of Emilius Paulus over Perseus is the famous bronze Spinarius (boy with a thorn), of the late Hellenistic period. Also a statue of Camillus from the Augustan period.
In the Hall of the She-Wolf are frescos of subjects from Roman history by Giacomo Ripanda, and the famous bronze Wolf of the Capitol. On the end wall are fragments of the Arch of Augustus (The Fasti Consulares).
In the Hall of the Geese, the main interest is a delightful dog in verde ranocchia. In the Hall of the Eagles is a wonderful painting by G. F. Romanelli called Solomon and the Queen of Sheba; in the Hall of the Throne are tapestries of Romulus and Remus from the painting by Rubens.
The Hall of Hannibal has frescoes attributed to Jacopo Ripanda of the early 16th century.
Palazzo dei Conservatori Museum: In the Hall of Modern Pomps are lists of magistrates of the city from 1649 upward. The Gallery of Orti Lamiani contains sculptures found in the gardens of the Aelii Lamia. Of interest is a Centaur’s Head and Venus of the Esquiline dating from the 1st century B.C. The Hall of Magistrates is named for the two statues dating from the beginning of the 4th century, Magistrates Conducting the Opening Ceremonies of the Games in the Circus. There is a wonderful Ionic funeral stele of a young girl with a dove dating from the 6th century B.C.
There are two Halls of Christian Monuments that contain epigraphs, sarcophagi, sculptures, and inscriptions. In the Hall of the Fireplace, there are Etruscan bucchero pottery from the 7th and 6th centuries B.C. and terracotta antefixes from Taranto dating from the 5th and 4th centuries B.C.
The two Castellani Halls contain the Castellani collection. In the Hall of the Bronzes there are remains of the colossal statue of Amiternum inlaid with silver ornamentation (1st century A.D.). Finally, the Hall of the Gardens of Maecenas contains sculptures from the garden of Maecenas, notably, a fighting Hercules and a relief with a dancing Maenad.
New Wing: The New Wing contains sculptures discovered in the most recent excavations and some remains from the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus.
New Museum: The rooms of the New Museum contain architectural decorations, urns, shelves, sarcophagi, small statuary, bases of columns, a statue of Priapus, candelabra bases, and a relief of a struggle between tigers and bulls from the basilica of Junius Bassus.
Capitoline Picture Gallery: This Gallery consists essentially of pictures from the Sacchetti and Pio Collections, works by Italian and foreign painters from the 16th to 18th centuries. Of interest are the Holy Family by Dosso Dossi, Portrait of a Woman With Attributes of St. Margaret by Girolamo Savoldo; The Baptism of Christ by Titian; Romulus and Remus Suckled by the Wolf by Rubens; the Ascension by Barnaba da Modena; Caravaggio’s erotic depiction of a young nude St. John the Baptist (see photo); Diana the Huntress by Cavalier D’Arpino; and the Gypsy Fortune-teller by a young Caravaggio.
Centrale Montemartini, Via Ostiense, 106. Tel. 06/574.8030. Admission charge. Tues.-Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat.-Sun. until 7pm. This art museum contains the overflow of artwork from the Capitoline Museums and is displayed among 20th century hardware in a former electric power plant.
Museum of the Walls, Via di Porta S. Sebastiano, 18. Tel. 757.52.84. Weekdays 9am-12:30pm; Sun. and Hol. 9am-1pm. Thurs. also 4pm-7pm. Closed Monday. Admission charge. This is open mainly for education purposes and uses models to illustrate the historical and architectural development of the monument.
Museum of Roman Ships, Fiumicino, Tel. 601.10.89, 9am-1pm and 2pm-5pm; Sun. and Hol. 9am-1pm. Admission charge. This museum was opened in 1979 as a result of 20 years’ work by archaeologist Valnea Santa Maria Scrinari. Shows the excavation and restoration of various Roman merchant vessels plus a fishing boat.
Museum of the Near East, Via Palestro, 63. Visitable upon request. Tel. 495.36.72. There are two sections to this museum: the Egyptian section and the Oriental Archaeology section. Contains funerary furnishings from Antinoe, material from the Pharaonic period found at Thebes, architectural fragments from excavations of the Palestinian site of Ramat Rahel and a collection of ceramic fragments from the excavations at Tell Mardikh Ebla.
National Museum of Oriental Art, Via Merulana, 248. Tel. 735.946. Weekdays 9am-2pm; Sun. and Hol. 9am-1pm. Admission charge. Contains pottery from the Italian archaeological excavations in the region of Sistan of the 3rd millennium B.C., bronze objects from Luristan (Iran), Islamic Art, Chinese, Japanese and Korean pottery and Buddhist bronzes. Of special interest is a funeral relief that is an example of Palmyrena art of the 3rd century, an Islamic ceramic plate, glazed with epigraphic decoration from Eastern Iran, and a bottle in gold and silver with scenes of bacchanal from Iran’s Sasanide period.
Museum of Origins, University, Faculty of Letters, Tel. 499.16.53. For study purposes only. Founded in 1930 by Prof. U. Rellini with material collected by or given to him on permanent loan by the Superintendent of Antiquities.
Italian Section: Of interest are animal remains from the Pleistocene period, including the skull of a prehistoric elephant found during the excavation of Via dei Fori Imperiali. Also material from Ponte S. Pietro, with flask-shaped vases.
Prehistoric and Protohistoric Section: Material from excavations conducted by the Paleo-ethnological Institute of the University, representing North African cultures from the Upper Paleolithic to the Protodynastic periods, rock art of the Libyan Sahara, and material found from the excavations of Afghanistan, Sistan and Persian Azerbaijan, Rumania, and Maltese pottery and stone tolls.
(L. Pigorini) Prehistoric and Ethnographic National Museum, Via Lincoln, 1. Tel. 591.07.02. Weekdays 9am-2pm; Sun. and Hol. 9am-1pm. Admission charge. Opened in 1962. Split into two sections: Ethnographic section on the first floor, and the Prehistoric and Protohistoric section on the second floor. Contains ancient bones and statues, skulls of pre-Neanderthal type from Saccopastore, and many rooms of antiquities.
National Museum of Rome (Museo Nazionale Romano), V.le E. De Nicola, 79. Tel. 488.08.56. Tues. to Sat., 9am-2pm; Sun. 9am-1pm. Admission charge includes entrance to Palazzo Altemps and Palazzo Massimo alle Terme. This museum is housed in the Baths that Diocletian had built between the last years of the 3rd century and the beginning of the 4th century A.D. Of interest is a wonderful statue of a Young Girl from Anzio of the first Hellenistic age; three sarcophagi with representation of the Three Graces; a fragment of a Hebrew sarcophagus figuring the seven-branch candlestick; and the Tomb of Gaius Sulpicius Platorinus and his family, that was unearthed during the building of the Tiber embankment between Ponte Sisto and the Farnesina.
Little Cloister of the Certosa: Of interest is a statue of a Young Roman Girl Portrayed as Diana from Ostia, 1st century A.D.; Venus and Love in a Procession of Nereids mosaic; a small green basalt statue of A Young Athlete from the Palatine; the Ludovisi Throne; a statue of the Young Dionysus; The Discus Thrower; the Head of Hadrian from the excavation carried out for the construction of Stazione Termini; Niobide Wounded of the 4th century B.C.; and a bronze statue of A Young Man Leaning on a Spear.
Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Largo Villa Peretti, 2. Tel. 06/489.035.01. Tues.-Sun. 9am-7pm. Admission charge includes admission to Museo delle Terme di Diocleziano at Piazza della Repubblica. This palace exhibits parts of the antiquities collections belonging to the National Museum of Rome, including fine mosaics and paintings that decorated ancient Rome’s villas and palazzos. Of interest, the fresco depicting a lush garden in bloom that came from the villa at Livia that the wife of Emperor Augustus owned outside of Rome.
Museum of Anthropology, Campus, Faculty of Physics and Animal and Natural Sciences, Dept. of Animal and Human Biology, Tel. 499.12.22/494.04.23. 9am-1pm. Admission charge. Founded by Giuseppe Sergi, it is the center for teaching and research into the natural history of man and the primates. It contains fossilized skull fragments from a Neanderthal man found in Rome in 1929 and 1935, better known as the “Saccopastore Man”. Also, the skeleton of the so-called “Maiella Man”, that is a homo sapiens traced back to pre-neolithic times. Many other specimens and anthropological collections are included in this museum.
Paleontological and Lithomineralogical Collections of the Institute of Geology, Largo S. Susanna, 13. Tel. 460.982. Visits are allowed only for purposes of study and must be previously authorized by the Direction. These collections were started by the Comitato Geologico, that moved them to Rome from Florence in 1873 to the Ufficio Geologico, whose name is now Servizio Geologico d’Italia. These collections include rocks and fossils; mollusks of the Pliocene and Quaternary periods; the Curioni collection of Lombardy fossils; the Cambrian fossils of Sardinia; and lithologic collections of the Alps, Elba, Campania, Latium, Abruzzi, Calabria, Puglia, and the Apuan Alps.
Municipal Museum of Zoology, via Aldrovandi, 18. Tel. 873.486. Daily 9am-1pm (the ticket for the Zoological Garden is valid here). Closed Mondays. Admission charge. This museum opened in 1932. The material takes up 18 large rooms and several smaller ones arranged in display cases. Among the exhibits are stuffed mammals and birds taxidermied in natural positions. There is a small area devoted to reptiles, amphibians, and fish. Some of the stuff specimens include a lynx from the western Alps, the “nun” seal from Cape Teulada, ibex from the Alps and the Pyrenees and the okapi, a donation from 1905. The “osteology” room contains large skeletons of dolphins, whales, and globocephalics from the Tyrrhenian coast.
Museum of Zoology of the Department of Animal and Human Biology, viale dell’Universita, 32. Tel. 495.82.54/495.82.59. Opening times on request. Admission charge. This museum used to be the Institute of Zoology with rich collections of vertebrates and invertebrates, some of remarkable interest. Some are displayed in a showcase some 48 metres long, while the locked metal showcases contain collections of fish, amphibians and reptiles from the Mediterranean, skulls of mammals and micromammals, invertebrates of all orders, in hundreds of thousands of examples, with particular reference to fauna of caves and soil. The library has 25,000 volumes.
Museum of Zoology, Second Section, collection of the ex-National Institute of Entomology (INE), via Catone, 34. Tel. 311.856. Opening times on request. Admission charge. This museum has a huge collection of several million insects, butterflies, and coleoptera in particular. These collections are basically for study purposes only and are kept in entomological boxes in locked cabinets that do not allow for public display. Their entomological library has some 15,000 volumes.
Museum of Comparative Anatomy, Campus, Faculty of Physics and Natural Sciences, via Alfonso Borelli, 50 (ground floor). Tel. 490.123/492.250. 9am-1pm on days when the University is open. Admission charge. The initial museum dates back to the natural history collection of Pius VII who, in 1804, founded the chair of “Historia Naturalis” and of Mineralogy at the Archiginnasio. When Rome became Italy’s capital, the Institute of Comparative Anatomy was founded and given a large part of the collection the present museum boasts. It contains skeletons and anatomical preparations of vertebrates; teaching specimens in Comparative Anatomy; instruments of microscopic and histologic anatomy; and large cetaceans. Currently, the museum is part of the Department of Animal and Human Biology of the University of Rome.
Museum of Physics, Campus, Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Natural Sciences (new building, third floor). Tel. 49914/334. Opening times to be arranged upon request. Admission charge. The museum contains equipment used for research and activities in the Physics Institute of Rome and teaching physics experiments.
Museum of Mineralogy, Campus, Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Natural Sciences. Department of Earth Sciences. Tel. 499.17.88. Open Friday 9am-1pm on request. Admission charge. This is the oldest museum in the Faculty of Mathematics, Physics, and Natural Science. It was set up after Pius VII’s letter of 1804 “Uberes dum menti nostrae”, referring to a vast collection of natural findings put together by the Archiginnasio della Sapienza. The museum was first arranged by P. G. Gismondi, who was its first director. In 1850, the museum got a positive turn by acquiring the Spada collection, by the pontifical government for 20,000 roman “scudi”; the collection was destined for the “Sapienza” museum. In 1873, it took the present name of the Mineralogy Museum and G. Struver sorted and catalogued every single piece, giving the museum the shape it has maintained to the present day. Some of the specimens are catalogued under the following classes: native elements, sulfurs, arsenides and such, sulfur salts, aloids, oxides and hydroxides, oxygenate salts (carbonates, sulphates, phosphates, silicates, etc.), and organic compounds. The Latium collection is particularly noticeable with pieces of great interest to science. It was re-opened to the public in 1985. Some extraordinary specimens include: the tourmaline from Elba (some 22-color crystals, pink and green, on a pegmatic matrix); the orange-pink topaz from Brazil; a transparent emerald from Columbia; a gold nugget from Jubdo (Ethiopia) weighing 1,250 grams; the geminate cinnabar crystals from Honan; the blue topaz from the Urals and the rain of olivinic and bronzite “condriti” (61 pieces) from Bur-Gheluai (Somalia). Note that some gem specimens alternate being on display at any given time.
Museum of Geology, Campus, Institute of Geology and Paleontology. Tel. 499.12.90. Opening times upon request. Admission charge. A collection of rocks and fossils brought together by Giuseppe Ponzi (1805-1885), who was a Roman doctor and naturalist and who held the first chair in Geology, instituted by Pius IX in 1864. The museum shows over 5,000 specimens displayed in 10 showcases, while another 2,000 are kept in drawers for lack of space. There are rocks formed by the cooling of the magma. Two remarkable collections complete the exhibit. The first is known as the “Belli Collection”, was donated by Piux IX and includes examples of the finest decorative stones. The other collection, the “Dodwell Collection”, is made up of 247 specimens coming from ancient Roman monuments.
Museum of Merchandising, Faculty of Economic and Commercial Sciences, Institute of Merchandising, via Castro Laurenziano, 9. Tel. 495.49.98. Visits on request. Admission charge. This museum contains over 9,000 items. It was started in 1906. Among the raw materials are bits of coal from all over the world. Also, processing silk from worm to fabric are on display.
Museum of History of Medicine, viale dell’Universita, 34a. Tel. 499.14.45. Weekdays 9am-1pm on request. Admission charge. This museum is attached to the Istituto di Storia della Medicina and was formed in 1938 under the guidance of Adalberto Pazzini. There are nine sections to this museum: primitive medicine (I); early civilization (II); Classical period (III); Middle Ages (IV); Renaissance (V); Seventeenth Century (VI); Eighteenth Century (VII); Nineteenth Century (VIII); and reconstructions of medieval and Renaissance scenes (alchemist’s and chemist’s laboratories).
Botanical Garden, largo Cristina di Svezia, 24. Tel. 686.41.93. Monday to Friday 9am-3pm, Sat. 9am-11am, Sundays and Holidays closed. Permanent Exhibition. Guided tours by appointment only. Admission charge. The “Orto Botanico”, located between Porta Settimiana and Porta Angelica, was set up long ago. In 1278, in Rome, there already was a “Viridarium novum”, described by contemporary writers as a place rich in plants and fountains, in which medical herbs were also grown, under the supervision of Simone da Genova, chief doctor of Nicholas III. This garden, called “Giardino dei Semplici”, was later enlarged and enriched by Nicholas V in 1447; here, Roman professors of Medicine took the material for their practical lessons. By the end of the 15th century, Pope Innocent VIII moved it from its original location (in part of the present Piazza San Pietro) to the Vatican Gardens, where stands today the Casina di Pio IV. After a period of great neglect, Alexander VII destined to it an area, the Fontana della Acqua Paola. In 1823, Leo XII opened a new botanical garden in the gardens of the Salviati Palace, in Via della Lungara, and later it was transferred to the Friars’ garden in San Lorenzo di Panisperna. Finally, in 1883, the Duke of Casigliano, Tommaso Corsini, gave his villa and his park to the Italian government and partially to the Municipality of Rome. The palace now houses the Accademia dei Lincei and the park is the present home of the Botanical Garden. This garden is one of the three most important Italian botanical gardens, both for its size (about 12 hectares) and the number of species (about 8,000). It has an interesting collection of perfectly acclimatized palms, conifers, leguminous and liliaceous plants, notable for their rarity, age, and provenance. There are also five greenhouses, covering 2,800 sq. m., in which are kept the more delicate species, a fine collection of orchids, ferns, and succulents. In the higher part of the garden, there is a remnant of the ancient forest that once covered the slopes of the Janiculum, made up of oaks, century-old beeches, ash, and other species typical of the Mediterranean evergreen oak forest. A wonderful place to visit.
Herbarium, Campus, Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Natural Sciences; Dept. of Plant Biology (2nd floor), Tel. 495.22.37. Visitable upon request only. In the early 1800s, every scholar had a private herbarium for their research. The University Herbarium was set up by Giuseppe de Notaris, who held the chair of Botany from 1872. After his passing, the chair passed to Nicola Pedicino who introduced the collections of P. Sanguinetti and E. Florini Mazzanti. After Pedicino’s passing, the chair went to Romualdo Pirotta, who expanded the collection considerably. At present, the collection has over 1,000,000 items, and is one of the biggest herbariums in Europe. The collection is exhibited in two rooms that are divided into four sections: the Roman herbarium, the general herbarium, the Cesati herbarium, and the Montelucci herbarium.
Museum of Paleontology, Campus, Department of Earth Sciences (2nd floor). Tel. 499.12.44. Every day except Sun., 9am-1pm. Admission charge. This museum consists of two rooms and a restoring lab. The first room contains fossils of invertebrates. Some of the showcases illustrate the animal and vegetable organisms that have taken over from each other in the last 600 million years, giving for each group information about system, stratum, and ecology. Two showcases are devoted to paleobotany, from the first forms of life, unicellular bacteria and algae, to the large Pteridophites of the Carboniferous up to the Angiosperms or plants with flowers that began in the Jurassic and spread through the Cretacean until they replaced the Earth’s flora in the Cenozoic period. The second is devoted to vertebrates such as fish, amphibia, birds, and reptiles with particular reference to Quaternary mammals from Latium and the Mediterranean area. There is a wonderful complete specimen of a Hippopotamus antiquus here also.
MEDIEVAL AND MODERN MUSEUMS
Doria Pamphilj Gallery, Palazzo Doria Pamphili, Piazza del Collegio Romano, Tel. 679.43.65. Fri.-Wed. 10am-5pm, closed Tuesdays. Admission charge. There is a separate admission charge for the private apartments. This Gallery is housed in the palace if the same name, that sits on Via del Corso, but its entrance is in the Piazza del Collegio Romano. The Renaissance palace passed from the Della Rovere family to the Aldobrandinis in 1601 and then, when Olimpia Aldobrandini married Camillo Pamphilj senior in 1647, to the latter. The most notable part of this magnificent palace is that was worked on by the architect Gabriele Valvassori between 1731 and 1734. He enriched the facade on the Corso, and closed the upper loggia of Bramante’s courtyard to obtain four wings. One wing was turned into the Gallery of Mirrors. In 1651, a breve by Giambattista Pamphilj, elected pope as Innocent X, sanctioned the birth of the Gallery. The collection at that time already included the famous portrait of the Pope commissioned from Velasquez in 1650. The direct Pamphilj family line ended in 1760 and the Doria Pamphilj branch inherited the palace. The Gallery was declared indivisible and inalienable in 1871, along with the other ex-trustee collections. On the days the building is open, it is also possible to visit the private and public rooms in the palace. Again, this Gallery is filled with an overabundance of paintings. Of interest are: Entrance – Landscape with the temple of the Sybil at Tivoli; a wood landscape with water plants and cliffs; and Landscape with the waterfall at Tivoli by Jan Frans van Bloemen. Wing 1 – Return of the Prodigal Son by Jacopo and Francesco Bassano the Younger; Salome With the Head of St. John the Baptist by Titian; Portrait of Andrea Navagero and Agostin Beazzano by Raphael; Rest During the Flight Into Egypt by Caravaggio. Aldobrandi Room I – St. John the Baptist in the desert by Guercino. Wing II –Madonna with Child by Ludovico Carracci; Samson by Guercino; The Holy Family by Sassoferrato; The Last Supper by Scarsellino. Room II – Christ Carrying the Cross and St. Veronica by Niccolo Frangipane; Earthly Paradise by Jacopo Bassano. Room III – Holy Family with S.S. Zachary, Elizabeth and John in Glory Adored by S.S. Francis and Bernardino by Garofalo. Room IV – Levantine Harbour by Arnold Frans Rubens; View of Rome with the Tiber and Aventine and View of Rome with the Convent of St. Peter in Chains, both by Hendrik Frans van Lint. Room V – Earthly Paradise and Original Sin by Jan Brueghel the Elder; Storm At Sea by Tempesta. Cabinet I – Landscapes by Herman van Swanewelt and Jan Brueghel the Elder. Wing III – Portrait of Giovanna of Aragon, a copy of a Raphael; Jacob Wrestling with the Angel by Stefano Maderno. Cabinet II – Portrait of Innocent X by Velasquez; Bust of Innocent X by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Wing IV – Landscapes by Claude Lorrain, Annibale Carracci, Francesco Albani, Salvator Rosa, Antonio Tempesta, Gaspare Vanvitelli, and G. Lazzoni. This Gallery is truly a plethora of delight. If you love art, you will get your fill in this Gallery. A must-see!
Gallery of the St. Luke Academy, Piazza dell’Accademia di San Luca, 77. Tel. 678.92.43. Gallery open Mon., Wed., Fri. 10am-1pm; last Sunday of month 10am-1pm. Library open weekdays 9am-1pm. Closed Sat. Historical Archive open Tues. 5pm-7pm, Wed. 10am-noon. Admission charge. This Gallery was born of the University of Painters, Miniaturists, and Embroiderers. The statutes of this university, that had already existed in Rome for quite some time, were renewed during the papacy of Sixtus IV (December 17, 1748). The original parchment is kept in the Academy’s archives. Neither the sculptors (who had split off from the stone masons in 1539 following a brief from Paul III issued at the request of Michelangelo) nor architects, however, belonged to the university. Moved by a desire to restore the arts while giving prestige to the artists’ calling and establishing respected training courses for young people, the painter Girolano Muziano sponsored the creation of an Academy that would combine the three figurative arts, welcoming painters, sculptors, and architects who had achieved proven renown. The proposal was accepted by Gregory XIII, whose brief of October 15, 1577 created the “Roman Academy of Fine Arts”, assigning it a religious congregation under the protection of St. Luke. In an effort to facilitate the work of this congregation, Sixtus V deeded it the Church of St. Martina in “tribus foris” in 1588, at which point the church took on the names of St. Luke and St. Martina. To get an idea of the prestige enjoyed by the Academy during its centuries of activity, one need merely scan the lists of its members, both Italian and foreign, from the end of the 16th century to the present day, that has included Borromini, Poussin, Reni, Guercino, The Carracci, Albani, Caravaggio, Giacomo della Porta, Martino Longhi, Carlo Maderno, Robert Adam, Valadier, G. L. Bernini, Pietro da Cortona, Carlo Rainaldi, “Baciccia”, Charles Le Brun, Preziado de la Vega, etc. Of importance is the “Incipit” from the statutes of the Painters University; St. Luke Painting the Virgin by Raphael; the breathtaking 3D painting Stairway and triumphal arch from a loggia; the sculpture Socrates saving Alcibiades during the Battle of Portidea by Antonio Canova; Andromeda by Cavalier d’Arpino; a fragment of a fresco by Raphael with a putto holding a festoon; The Announcement to the Shepherds by Jacopo Bassono; a funeral mask of Michelangelo; Madonna and Child with Angel Musicians by Anthony Van Dyck; Venus and Love by Guercino; The Birth of St. John the Baptist by Baciccia, a sketch for the painting that is in the Church of S. Maria in Campitelli. This Gallery is a must see for those who enjoy wonderful works of art.
National Gallery of Ancient Art, Palazzo Barberini, via Quattro Fontana, 13. Tel. 06/482.41.84. Tues.-Sat. 9am-7pm, Sun. 9am-1pm, closed Tuesdays. Admission charge; children under 17 and seniors over 60 free. The Palazzo Barberini was designed by Maderno, and built on the site of the previous Villa Sforza, for Matteo Barberini who became pope as Urban VIII. On Maderno’s death in 1629, Gian Lorenzo Bernini took control of the construction. One of his collaborators was Francesco Borromini whose hand is recognizable in certain architectural details, and in the design of the curving staircase on the right, corresponding to the rectangular main staircase on the opposite side that was designed by Bernini. The latter is also responsible for the central hall, two floors high, and the adjacent oval room with its harmonious classical proportions that takes up a typical theme of Bernini, the elliptical plan. The great hall was decorated by Pietro da Cortona who worked on it from 1633 to 1639; the allegorical theme, derived from the poet Francesco Bracciolini, centers on the Triumph of Providence and was intended to exalt the glory of the papal family.
In the large entrance hall and adjacent side-room of the piano nobile are 17th century busts, among the notable an outstanding portrait of Urban VIII by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The Barberini collection is arranged in chronological order in the rooms that follow. Of note are 13th century painted crosses, including a painted crucifix by Bonaventura Berlinghieri; a 15th century work by Filippo Lippi called Madonna and Child; and the outstanding painting on wood of the Madonna with Saints Paul and Francis by Antoniazzo Romano. Room V – Tuscan paintings of the early 16th centurry, including the Holy Family by Andrea Del Sarto and a Madonna and Child by Domenico Beccafumi. Room VI – The ceiling fresco is by Andrea Camasci. Important works include La Fornarina by Raphael Sanzio, and a small Madonna and Child by Giulio Romano. Room VII – The ceiling of this magnificent room was painted by Andrea Sacchi and shows Divine Wisdom. On display are works of Northern Italian and Venetian painters from the 16th century. Some of the gallery’s more important works are here, including Lorenzo Lotto’s Mystical Marriage of St. Catherine; Tintoretto’s Christ and the Adultress; Titian’s Venus and Adonis, and two sketches by Greco. Just past the chapel in an adjoining side-room is a wonderful collection of Flemish works from the 15th to 17th centuries. More important is the portrait of Henry VIII by Hans Holbein. The next room contains paintings by Marcello Venusti, Siciolante da Sermoneta, and portraits by Pulzone and Federico Zuccari. On the ceiling are the Deeds of Joseph, a work by Baldassarre Croce. These are followed by works from the Bolognese school of the second half of the 16th century, including Annibale Carracci’s Tabernacle with Mary and Saints. Exquisite!
The next room is devoted to Caravaggio, that include Judith cutting off the head of Holofernes and Narcissus. The rooms that follow exhibit works by Saraceni, Gentileschi, and some paintings by the Bambocciante School. Among the Neopolitan 17th century works are paintings by Salvatore Rosa, Mattia Preti, Massimo Stanzone, Bernardo Cavallini, etc. The final rooms are devoted to 17th century Roman painters, with some works by N. Poussin, Guido Reni, Lanfranco, Pietro da Cortona, Albani, and Guercino.
On the second floor, other than the rooms of the so-called 18th century apartment, numerous rooms contain the National Gallery’s exhibition of 18th century art. There is a large room decorated with scenes from the lives of the American Indians. Toward the end of the exhibition are rooms containing Venetian and German 18th century glass, pieces of Venetian furniture, a collection of Italian porcelain, pieces of embroidery with biblical scenes, 18th century Chinese porcelain, and the last room is devoted to Castelli ware, a rich collection of plates and painted tiles. The collection of 18th century dress is very interesting.
Colonna Gallery, Via della Pilotta, 17. Tel. 679.43.62, Sept.-July, Sat. 9am-1pm only. Admission charge. Closed month of August. The Colonna Gallery is housed in Palazzo Colonna, that fills the large block stretching from Piazza SS. Apostoli to Via della Pilotta, that bridges with four arches before continuing as far as the garden of the Villa, the main entrance is in Via XXIV Maggio. It dates back to the 15th century and Pope Martin V Collona and was rebuilt in 1700. The Gallery was founded in 1654 by Cardinal Girolamo I Colonna who entrusted its construction to the architect Antonio Del Grande, who put the roof on in 1665. In 1671, after the death of Del Grande, Girolamo Fontana took over the building of this palace. The decoration of the ceilings by the painters G. Coli, G. Gherardi, Sebastiano Ricci, and G. Chiari was completed in 1702. In 1703, the Gallery was opened by Filippo Colonna. This Gallery contains massive collections of masterpieces in many rooms. Among the noteworthy are: Entrance Hall – St. Benedict of Norcia by Jacopo Chimenti. Anteroom – a Crucifixionfrom the school of F. Barocci, and Magdalen at the Sepulchre, a copy from Caravaggio. Room of the Column of War – ceiling frescoes by G. B. Chiari showing the Apotheosis of Marcantonio Colonna II; Madonna and Child, St. Peter and donor by Palma il Vecchio; Venus, Cupid and Satyr by Angelo Bronzino; Narcissus at the Well by J. Tintoretto. Larger Room – Supper in the House of Simon by F. Bassano the Younger; St. John the Baptist in a cave by Salvator Rosa; Martyrdom of St. Emerenziana by Guercino; St. Francis in prayer with two angels by G. Reni. Room of Landscapes – many landscapes by G. Dughet; Apollo and Daphne by a follower of N. Poussin. Room of the Apotheosis of Martin V – on the ceiling in the center is the Apotheosis of Martin V by B. Luti; Virgin after the Annunication, the Archangel Gabriel by Guercino; St. Elizabeth and the infant St. John the Baptist by A. Bronzino. Throne Room – portrait of Marcantonio Colonna II by S. Pulzone. Room of the Primitives – Throned Madonna with the Child Blessing by B. Vivarini. This list doesn’t even touch on what is housed in this Gallery.
National Gallery in Palazzo Corsini, via della Lungara, 10. Tel. 654.23.23. Tues-Fri. 9am-7pm, Mon. and Sat. 9am-2pm. Hol. 9am-1pm. Admission charge. The Palazzo Corsini is typical of Ferdinando Fuga’s work, built between 1732-36 on the site of the old Riario Palace, founded in the 15th century and known, among other things, for having been chosen for her home by Queen Christina of Sweden. Taking the main entrance, you go directly into an atrium containing Roman sarcophagi and marble busts of personages and divinities from classical antiquity in keeping with 18th century taste for the antique. There are two majestic flights of stairs; on the landing are busts and sarcophagi from which a central flight of stairs leads to the vestibule. This huge hall, originally designed for a music room or ballroom, has an orchestra gallery. In the center is an exquisite marble group by John Gibson called Psyche borne by winged Zephyrs. Also of interest is a dancing Faun. There are two allegorical statues of Fishing and Hunting, as well as statues of Vesta and Vulcan by Pietro Tenerani. Room I contains Flemish paintings; Room II contains works by L. Van Uden, J. Brueghel the Elder, C. Berents, A. Bruegal, P. P. Ruebens, A. Van Dyck, etc.; Room III contains paintings from the Italian 16th century by Caravaggio, Gentileschi, Saraceni, Serodine, Borgianni, Bambocciante painters and landscape artists. Room IV contains works by foreign painters Valentin, Tournier, Bigot, Honthorst, and Schers. Room V is the bedroom of Queen Christina of Sweden with 16th century frescoes. Room VI has more Italian paintings of the 17th century – Baciccio, Viterbese, Raffaello and Raffaellino, Brandi, P. F. Mola, Cigoli, and Dolci. Room VII contains the works of G. Reni, L. Carracci, G. Lanfranco, Guercino, Sassoferrato, and Schedoni. Of note is G. Reni’s Salome with the head of John the Baptist. Room VIII has the works of S. Compagno, Spagnoletto, Luca Giodano, Salvatore Rosa, Mattia Preti, and Cavallino. As you can see, there is a lot to see in this gallery.
Keats-Shelley Memorial House, Piazza di Spagna, 26. Tel. 678.42.35. Winter 9am-1pm; 2:30pm-5:30pm. Summer 9am-1pm; 3pm-6pm. Closed Sat. and Sun. Admission charge. The Memorial was founded in 1903 by a group of English and American admirers of the two poets under the presidency of Ambassador Sir Rennel Rodd, and was inaugurated in the presence of King Victor Emanuel III in 1909. The foundation, that possesses an important specialized library much frequented and continually added to, also publishes a bulletin and a journal. It is situated in the apartment that Keats lived at the foot of the Spanish Steps and where he died on February 23rd. The various rooms contain manuscripts, pictures, sculptures, prints, drawings, and various curios connected not only with Shelley and Keats, but also with Byron and Leigh Hunt. The walls are covered with shelves and cupboards containing books on the English Romantic movement and on relations between Italy and Great Britain. In the collection, there are fragments of original manuscripts, an autograph felter of Oscar Wilde, watercolors by Joseph Severn who lived in this house with Keats, and a death mask of Keats.
National Gallery of Modern Art, viale delle Belle Arti (Valle Giulia), 131. Tel. 322.981. Weekdays 9am-2pm, Sun. and Hol. 9am-1pm. Closed Monday. Admission charge. In 1881, a decree of the minister Guido Baccelli instituted a Gallery of Modern Art in Rome. The result was Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Via Nazionale, designed by Pio Piacentini when the first national exhibition in the new capital was held in 1883. In 1911, it was decided to transfer the gallery to the central building of the Universal Exposition in the dell of Valle Giulia, designed and built by Cesare Bazzani. Of interest: Room I – Large View of Rome by Vittorio Grassi and another by Umberto Prencipe. Room II – Shipwreck from “The Tempest” of Shakespeare by the English painter George Rommey; Sketch for the Tomb of Vittorio Alfieri by A. Canova. Room III – the famous Psyche unconscious,Bust of Princess Wolkonski, and statue of Pellegrino Rossi by Pietro Tenerani and the magnificent Florence from the Boboli Gardens by Giovanni Migliara. Room IV – devoted to the romantic movement represented by Francesco Hayez, Bather and The Sicilian Vespers Giovanni Carnavali (Il Piccio) with biblical scenes and portraits and a few paintings by Massimo d’Azeglio. Rooms V and VI – devoted to Filippo Palizzi. Large Hall (formerly Rooms VII-VIII and XIX) – contain The Terrace by Eduardo Dalbona and Banks of the Seine by Federico Rossano. Also, Piazza San Marco by M. Cammarano. I forget what room G. Klimt’s The Three Ages is on exhibit, but it is magnificent. Room IX – contains paintings of the Palizzi brothers while Room X contains works of Filippo Palizzi and Bernardo Celentano. Room XI contains paintings on historical subjects; of note is Tasso and Eleonora d’Este by Domenico Morelli and Marco Polo before the Gran Khan of the Tartars by Tranquillo Cremona. Rooms XII and XIII are dedicated to Domenico Morelli. Room XIV contains historical paintings of the second half of the 19th century. Room XV was not open. Room XVI houses works by Faruffini and Antonio Fontanesi, that include Woman at the Fountain and Diana Bathing. Room XVII is devoted to Medardo Rosso who transferred into his sculpture the new conceptions of impressionism. Of note are Laughing Mask, The Go-Between, and Veiled Woman. Room XVIII contains works of artists belonging to the ‘divisonismo’ school, so-called from the optical theory of the division of colors into their elements: this corresponds to the French Pointilliste school. Among the noteworthy are At the Barrier by Giovanni Segantini andDahlias by Gaetano Previati. Room XIX – this room is now part of the Large Hall. Rooms XX and XXI were not open for viewing due to restoration. Room XXII – in the space between Rooms XX and XXIV are works by foreign artists such as D. G. Rossetti, P. A. Besnard, Luigi Gioli, and of note is The Whistle of Steam by Adolfo Tommasi.
The rooms that follow house the collection of pictures and sculptures from the first four decades of the 20th century, some 1,500 pieces. A limited offering of roughly 400 works are on display at any one time, however. Among the most important works are the futuristic pieces in the Balla collection. Of special interest are two metaphysical works by Carra and Morandi, and Cezanne’s Le Cabanon de Jourdan. This Gallery has a lot to see if you are a modern art lover.
Canonica Museum, Viale Pietro Canonica, Villa Borghese. Tel. 844.95.33. Tues. to Sun. 9am-1:30pm. Tues. and Thurs. also 4pm-7pm. Admission charge. Mondays and whole month of August closed. This Museum was born from the proposal made by Corrado Ricci to the Piedmontese sculptor to donate a collection of his works to the city in exchange for the use of the place that would later house the bequest. From 1922, the place in question was an old building on the Palatine that was then demolished to allow for excavations. In 1962, Canonica moved in the “Fortezzuola” in Villa Borghese and stayed there until his death in 1956. The “Fortezzuola” goes back to the 16th century and was probably originally a hunting lodge. In the 17th century, it became the house of the Custodi del Gallinaro. It came in an abandoned state to Pietro Canonica, who restored and enlarged it at his own expense. At the front, there is the bronze group of The Alpino with his Mule. The sculptor’s works (in marble and bronze, plaster models, and casts) are arranged in seven rooms on the ground floor. There are also others in the studio and the apartment that can only be seen by special permission. Of great interest is P. Canonica’s After the Vow. Also: Stations of the Cross, Christ Deposed, equestrian statue of Simon Bolivar, equestrian statue of Feysal I King of Iraq, Christ flagellated, Czar Nicholas II of Russia, and Edward VII of England.
Spada Gallery, via Capodiferro, 3. Tel. 656.11.58.Weekdays 9am-2pm, Wed. Thurs., Fri., Sat. also 3pm-7pm, Sun. and Hol. 9am-1pm. Admission charge. The Spada Gallery is located in the Palace of the same name, once the property of Cardinale Girolamo Capodiferro (1501-1559), who, sometime between 1548 and 1550, began to have it built on the site of pre-existing buildings belonging to his family, by Bartolomeo Baronino, whose place was taken at his death in 1554 by a certain Mastro Giulio who may in fact have been Giulio Merisi da Caravaggio. After the death of Cardinal Capodiferro, the palace passed to the Mignanelli family and was then bought in 1632 by Cardinal Bernardino Spada (1594-1661) who, from the moment he took up residence, decided not only to set up the basis of an art collection, but also decided on a series of modifications employing various painters, sculptors, and architects. Among the latter was Francesco Borromini who created the famous Perspective Gallery. The main features of the palace are the abundant decoration in stucco of the facade and the courtyard. The palace, along with the Gallery, was bought by the State in 1927. Since 1890, the building has housed the Council of State. Of major interest are: David and Goliath by O. Gentileschi;Borea kidnapping Critia by F. Solimena; Meeting of Bacchus and Ariadne by Giuseppe Chiari; St. Sebastian by F. di Lorenzo; The Masaniello Revolt by E. Cerquozzi, and a David by Nicolas Renier. There are many other fine works of art that should not be missed in this Gallery either.
Pallavicini Gallery and Casino dell’Aurora (Palazzo Pallavicini-Rospigliosi), Via XXIV Maggio, 43, off Piazza del Quirinale. Tel. 06/482.72.24. First day of the month, 10 am-6pm or by appointment. Special permission can be obtained to visit this Gallery by applying to the Pallavicini Administration, 1b, via della Consulta. Tel. 474.40.19. Casino dell’Aurora open first of every month from 10am-noon and 3pm-5pm. For visits on different times, apply to the Management, vicolo del Mazzarino, 14. Tel. 475.12.24. Entrance is free. This Gallery was formed on the wishes of Cardinal Lazzaro Pallavicini of the well-known Genoese family. The Cardinal took immense care in getting the collection together, adding to the works from Genoa, that included the 13 pictures by Rubens, works acquired by him and listed in the will that he instituted in favor of the Pallavicini-Rospigliosi line. The Casino is located inside the perimeter wall on the left with the famous Aurora fresco by Guido Reni on the ceiling of the hall. The walls are hung with landscapes by Paul Bril. Among the notable works in this Gallery are: Lust being vanquished by Chastity by Lorenzo Lotto; Genius with the Horn of Plenty by Nicolas Poussin; Christ and the Twelve Apostles by Peter Paul Rubens (the oldest nucleus of the collection); and Original Sin by Domenichino. Many other fine works are on display here and, if you are an art lover, you should not miss this Gallery.
Museum of Palazzo Venezia, via del Plebescito, 118. Cybo apartment and smaller Palazzetto. Tel. 06/679.88.65. Tues.-Sat. 9am-2pm, Sun. 9am-1pm. Closed Mondays. Admission charge; children under 18 free. A very interesting museum, one of my favorites in Rome. The Palazzo Venezia was designated as the seat of the museum in 1916 when it passed into the possession of the Italian State after serving as the embassy of the Venetian Republic and later as the Austrian Embassy. The inside staircases are dark, bland, and cold, and make you think you are walking through a medieval castle in a 1930s black-and-white movie. The construction of this palace was begun in 1451 by Pope Paul II Barbo when he was the titular Cardinal of the nearby Basilica di San Marco (one of the oldest churches in Rome), and continued in 1464 when he was elected pontiff. The work was later carried on by his nephew, Marco Barbo. The design of the building, typical of 15th century palaces of Roman nobles, reveals Tuscan influence, especially in the “loggia della benedizione” and in the incomplete loggia overlooking the courtyard. When it became the property of Lorenzo Cibo, nephew of Pope Innocent VIII, the building was enlarged along via del Plebiscito. In the 18th century, Cardinal Querini had the sentry walkway overlooking via degli Astalli covered in, creating the so-called “Corridor of the Cardinals”. In 1911, to provide space for the monument to Victor Emanuel II on the far side of Piazza Venezia, the entire “Greenhouse” of Paul II, that cornered on the main prospect, was moved and reconstructed with all its stones, marble, and cloisters on the left side of the building. The museum was partially opened in 1921 and was finally organized in 1936. It houses paintings from the 13th to 18th centuries, marble and carved-wood sculptures, bronzes, terracotta, pottery, china, silver, cloths, seals, medals, glassware, tapestries, and enamels. A very extensive collection indeed. One of the “must sees” while in Rome.
Early Middle Ages Museum, viale Lincoln, 3. Tel. 592.58.06/591.56.56. Weekdays 9am-2pm, Sun. and Hol. 9am-1pm. Admission charge. This Museum was founded in 1967 and contains archeological material from excavations and collections relating to the period of time from late Antiquity to the high Middle Ages (from the 4th to 13th centuries). Among the noteworthy are marble portraits, including a fine head of a Byzantine emperor from the Palatine Hill, material from the Longobard necropolis at Nocera Umbra (Perugia) and Castel Trosino, the largest yet discovered in central Italy. In the tombs of men, one finds arms such as swords, spears, shields, daggers, arrows, helmets and breastplates, belt buckles of gold, silver and inlaid iron. In the tombs of women, pins and brooches for dresses, decorated with animal motifs in the typically Germanic style. In both the male and female tombs, there are accessories like gold crosses, glass and clay recipients, bronze bowls, combs, etc. Of particular interest are some sword decorations in filigree and chased gold and punched or engraved belt ornamentation, and chased gold brooches. Also noteworthy are ivory coffers, one of which, perfectly preserved, shows scenes from the Old Testament. In Rooms IV and V are early medieval reliefs from the 7th to 10th centuries. Of interest is the altar front from Ara Coeli with peacocks facing either side of the cross. Also, the rail of an ambo from the church of Santo Stefano on the via Latina with an inscription dating from the pontificate of Sergius II (844-847). There is also an important relief showing the ascension into heaven of Alexander the Great. Room VI boasts the excavations at S. Cornelia near Rome. Room VII has a collection of Coptic fabrics, including tablecloths, tunics, shawls, and wall hangings, derived from burials in Christian and Islamic Egypt.
National Graphics Institute, via della Stamperia, 6. Tel. 679.89.58/679.49.16. 230 via della Lungara. Tel. 654.95.65/656.13.75. Daily 9am-1pm except Sun. and Hol. Houses temporary exhibitions; entrance is free; schedules determined at time of the event. This Institute was created in 1975 following the merger of the National Center for Prints and the State Engraving Studio. Since 1976, its assigned headquarters have been the Palazzo Poli. The Center for Prints, headquartered on the second floor of the Villa della Farnesina, was founded in 1985 by Prince Tommaso Corsini, who sold the building on the Via della Lungara, along with its picture gallery, to the State. Housed here is the National Collection. Among the more venerable works are the 18th century Pio collection, the Fuga Collection, and the Drusiani Collection, whose works include a large body of Tiepolo prints. The collection contains more than 150,000 prints and designs. One of the most important sketches on display is Leonardo da Vinci’s Study in draping and G. L. Bernini’s Self-portrait. An interesting place to visit if you have extra time.
Museum of Folk Art and Traditions, Piazza Marconi, 8 (E.U.R.), Tel. 591.07.09. Weekdays 9am-2pm. Sun. and Hol. 9am-1pm. Admission charge. An initiative of Lamberto Loria, this museum was founded in 1906 in Florence. In 1956, it was moved to a new site in Rome. Almost all of the materials in the current collection were part of the exhibition organized in 1911 for the 50th anniversary of Italian Unification. During this event, Loria’s original collection was enriched by objects gathered from every corner of Italy, that have been a part of the museum ever since. Of note is a newborn’s baptismal dress said to have magical powers, in silver, gold, and corral from Sciacca, Sicily. The museum’s resources include scientific stores of ethnographic material, historical archives, historical photographic archives, a photographic gallery, a record and tape collection, audio-visual archives, catalogue sector, library, laboratories for restoration, carpentry department, and a photographic laboratory.
Museum of Folklore, Piazza S. Egidio, 1/B. Tel. 581.65.63. Weekdays 9am-1:30pm. Thurs. also 5pm-7:30pm; Sun. 9am-1pm. Closed Monday. Admission charge. In 1601, Lucrezia Costa founded a small nunnery of Barefoot Carmelites, renting a humble house near the Church of San Lorenzo in Janiculo, or de Jianiculo, called San Lorenzino (today’s Via della Paglia). The building was enlarged in 1607. In 1610, the Chapter of Santa Maria in Trastevere conceded the decaying Church of San Lorenzino to the wealthy and pious Agostino Lancellotti who restored it, calling it S. Egidio and making the Carmelites his heirs. In the same year, Paul V elevated the religious house and the church into a convent. In 1628, Urban III conceded, in place of the old church of San Lorenzino, the Church of S. Biagio and the nearby oratory of SS. Crispino and Crispiano belonging to the Shoemakers’ Confraternity (Piazza dei Velli); the church was rebuilt in 1630 and, in 1632, took the name of Santa Maria del Carmelo e di S. Egidio. The Carmelites lived in the convent until the anticlerical laws drove them out after 1870; from 1875, the building became municipal property and the site of the Marchiafava Dispensary. On September 21, 1972, restorations started to enable the former nunnery to house both the Museum of Folklore and of Roman Dialect Poets and the Trilussa Studio, for which the roof terrace was utilized. The cloister is very plain in its solid structure; some arches were reopened during the restoration. There is a marble foot that was part of a gigantic statue of Isis on the main staircase, that came from the temple of Isis in the Campo Marzio. The original is located in the street of the same name, precisely at the beginning of Via S. Stefano del Cacco. Also of interest is the Bocca della verita, which is a Roman sewer cover representing a grotesque mask with a wide open mouth. Its original attached to the facade of Santa Maria in Cosmedin was placed in the porch of this church in 1632. According to an old tradition, the mask has the power of biting the hand of those who put into its mouth while telling a lie. There are many other interesting things to see in this museum if you have the extra time.
Central Museum of the Risorgimento, Via S. Pietro in Carcere (left side of the Victor Emanual Monument), Tel. 679.35.26. This museum opened October 2, 1970 on the centenary of the plebiscite held to decide whether Rome should be the capital of Italy. All the material gathered was arranged in part of the monument to Victor Emanuel IV in five chronological sections from the second half of the 18th century up to World War I. First Section – documents and objects relating to the period between Absolutism and the scientific congresses of 1846. Of interest are autographed letters of Napoleon and Joachim Murat, furniture given by Napoleon to his sister Elisa Baciocchi, Masonic diplomas, and personal belongings of prisoners in Spielberg and those of the Bandiera brothers. Second Section – You reach this section via a marble staircase. Objects relate to the period from 1846-48 beginning with the pontificate of Piux IX. Of interest is a flag of the Civic Guard, records of the First War of Independence, and a rich collection of material relating to the Roman Republic and Garibaldi and Mazzini. Third Section – You reach this section by a spiral staircase. It is devoted to the Decade of Preparation and contains documents and record of Victor Emanuel II and Cavour. In a smaller room are medals and coins going from the 18th century up to the Unification. Fourth Section – This is devoted to Italy from 1861 to 1900 and is dominated by a gigantic plaster cast of the Monument at Castelfidardo by V. Pardo. It also contains documents from the first Ministries of the Kingdom up to the taking of Rome. Showcases have some 3,383 model soldiers from the Enrico Serra Collection. These are representations of soldiers of the Italian Army in 1866, whose faces have been taken from actual photographs, though the uniforms and weaponry are not that accurate. Fifth Section – Devoted to World War I. Contains panels that record life in the trenches through documents, photographs, drawings, and original sketches. There is also the gun carriage that carried the body of the Unknown Warrior. NOTE: you can now enter the monument from Piazza Venezia entrance (looking straight at the front of the monument) and go all the way to the columned corridor at the top of the monument for a spectacular view of the city as well as of Trajan’s Marketplace and the Foro Romano areas. It is free. Be sure to take your camera!
Museum of Rome and Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, Piazza S. Panteleo 10 (Palazzo Braschi). Tel. 687.58.80. I do not know if there is an admission charge for this museum. This museum was formed after 1911 with the retrospective exhibitions of Castel Sant’Angelo. To reach the museum, you go up the large staircase on the left. In the passageway, there is the colossal marble group The Baptism of Christ by Francesco Mochi. Of interest in this museum include: First Floor – Room I – 17th century busts incluuding Carlo Barberini by F. Mochi. Room II – Clement XI. Room III – devoted to Roman Feasts with special note of the paintingTournament in 1565 in the Vatican Courtyard by an unknown artist, and Giostra del Saraceno in Piazza Navona also by an unknown artist of the early 17th century. Room IV – has a reconstruction of the ceiling of the Kaffeehaus, now demolished, by Ludovico Cardi, depicting The Legend of Psyche; also the Feast in Honour of Christina of Sweden by F. Lauri and F. Gagliardi. Small Oval Room – portraits of Popes by unknown Bolognese painter and a Bust of Clement XII by Filippo della Valle. In the middle is a tabernacle donated by Julius III to the basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli. Room VI – contains frescoes in chiaroscuro taken from the house of Cardinal Rodolfo Pio da Carpi in Via Tomacelli and from the Nymphaeum of Palazzo del Bufalo Cancelleri in Via del Nazzareno, the work of Polidoro da Caravaggio and Maturino da Firenze. Room VII – a wonderful fresco of Apollo and the Nine Muses by Giovanni di Pietro, that were taken from the hall of the Hunting Lodge at La Magliana. Room VIII – contains a selection of portrait busts, including The Investiture of Taddeo Barberini as Perfect of Rome by Agostino Tassi. Room IX – contains small views of Rome. In the Great Hall are six tapestries from the Gobelin factory in Paris to designs of various French painters. The Valadier Chapel – contains stuccoes in the ceiling and a Tabernacle by Girolamo da Carpi. Room XII – contains views of Rome. Room XIII – contains paintings by unknown artists of the 17th century. Room XIV – contains a model of the Rospigliosi Pallaavicini Chapel in S. Francesco a Ripa. Room XV – Roman school (first half of the 18th century), including the Incredulity of St. Thomas. Room XVI – a wonderful Portrait of Pius VI by Pompeo Batoni. Room XVIII – paintings of papal processions. Room XIX – there is a plaster model for Canova’s >Self-portrait. Room XX – The Four Crowned Saints by a follower of Caravaggio, and sacred ornaments of the Marbleworkers’ Guild. Room XXI – devoted to Italian and French 18th and 199th century weights and measures. Room XXII – has the 16th century Magistrate’s pews from the Palazzo Senatorio.
Second Floor – Egyptian Room – decorated with paintings by F. Gai. Chinese Room – contains antique furniture. Room of the Virtues – Mosaics, marble pieces, and furnishings. 19th Century Room – paintings illustrating Views of Rome. 18th Century Room – again, more views of Rome. Two adjoining rooms have collections of costumes of men and women of the 18th and 19th centuries. Sala dei Conservatori – contains costumes and portraits of the Conservatori. Room of the Processions – there are two large canvases by an anonymous painter of the 18th century, showing Entrance in Rome of the Venetian Ambassador Nicola Duodo and Ambassador L. Duodo Visiting the Quirinale.Room of Horatius Coclitus – frescoes on the life of the Roman hero and three paintings from Palazzo Rospigliosi. There is also a large collection of ceramics from the 11th to the 19th centuries. Room of Cephalus and Procri – this room is very elegantly decorated. Room of Pius VI – contains the Pope’s litter and portraits of him and members of his family.
Municipal Gallery of Modern Art (third and fourth floors of the Palace): The third floor contains sculptures and paintings by artists like Pietro Tenerani, Bartolomeo Pinelli, Domenico Morelli, Girolamo Favretto, sculptor Ettore Ximenes, etc.
Borghese Museum and Gallery, Villa Borghese, Piazza Scipione Borghese, 5., off Via Pinciana. Information 06/854.85.77, reservations 06/32.810, press 2 for English. Tues.-Sun. 9am-7pm and reservations are required. Ground floor only visitable. Admission charge. The Borghese Villa and its small palace were constructed at the beginning of the 17th century outside the Aurelian Wall between the Porta Pinciana and the no longer existing Porta Salaria, in an area then occupied by orchards and vineyards. In 1902, the Italian State bought the Borghese property and the small palace with its collection and turned it into a museum. Some of the masterpieces contained in this fine museum are the marble Paolina Bonaparte, or Venus Triumphant by A. Canova; Deposition by Raphael; Bernini’s David releasing his sling (Room II); Samson in Prison by Annibale Carracci (also in Room II); Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s unfinished work of Truth Being Unveiled by Time (Room VI); in the middle of Room VIII is the Dancing Satyr, a Roman copy of the Greek bronze original of the school of Lysippus, restored in the 19th century by Thorwaldsen; Taddeo Zuccari’s Christ Dead (also in Room VIII), as well as Dirk Van Baburen’s Capture of Christ. In Room IX is Raphael’s famous Deposition, dated 1507 and restored not long ago; also, a Madonna and Child by Pietro Perugino, Crucifixion by Pinturicchio, and a Holy Family by Fra Bartolomeo. Caravaggio’s famous painting St. John the Baptist also hangs in the Borghese. There are many, many masterpieces in this museum and it is definitely on my ‘must see’ list for those who love art.
Napoleonic Museum, via Zanardelli, 1. Tel. 654.02.86. Weekdays 9am-2pm. Hol. 9am-1pm. Thurs. also 5pm-8pm. Closed Monday. Admission charge. Opened in 1927 and consists of material from the collection left to the City of Rome by Count Giuseppe Primoli, the son of Carlotta Bonaparte, who was connected to Napoleon’s family by dual descendence. The Roman Count Primoli spent his youth in Paris at the Court of Napoleon III. On the fall of the Emperor, he returned to Rome where, amongst other things, he devoted himself to collecting works of art, curios, and trophies from the Napoleonic period. The collection is contained in 14 rooms of Palazzo Primoli that had belonged to the Gottifredi and the Filonardi in the 16th century, and restored between 1904 and 1911 by architect Raffaele Ojetti who added a wing towards Piazza Ponte Umberto. Among items of interest: a painting by J. Chabord of Napoleon on Horseback; two marble busts of Elisa Bonaparte by L. Bartolini; the library, that contains books owned by Napoleon at St. Helena, and showcases containing miniatures, waxes, and snuff-boxes. These are in Rooms I and II. Items in Room III are devoted to the Second Empire. Rooms IV and V are devoted to the King of Rome, and Room VI is devoted to Paolina, sister of Napoleon who married Prince Camillo Borghese. Room VII is devoted to the general and brother-in-law of Napoleon who became King of Naples; Room VIII contains satyr and myth. Room IX is devoted to Rome when occupied by the French during the pontificates of Piux VI and Pius VII. Room X contains a painting by Louis David of the Princesses Zenaide and Carlotta, daughters of King Joseph, and Rooms XI and XII are devoted to the Roman branch of the Bonapartes. Room XIV contains memorabilia of Mathilde, the daughter of King Jerome of Westphalia.
Goethe Museum, via del Corso, 18. Tel. 884.17.25. This Museum was opened in 1973, in the same house where Goethe lived during his stay in Rome (1786-88). The museum is maintained by the ‘Freies Deutsches Hochschrift – Frankfurther Goethe Museum” (German Free Foundation – Goethe Museum of Frankfurt), which also takes care of the Goethe’s native home in Frankfurt. The museum is dedicated above all to Goethe’s journey in Italy; a series of slides show various aspects of his life and work.
Museum of Sound Reproducing Instruments, via Caetani, 32 (Palazzo Mattei). Tel. 656.41.97. 9am-1pm, closed Sun. and Hol. Admission charge. Visits by appointment for record listening (tel. 687.90.48). This museum is housed in the rooms above the State Record Library and occupies three halls containing rare listening equipment on wax rolls, tapes, and records. Among the most important pieces: Edison gramophone for recording and reproduction on wax rolls, 160 revolutions per minute; two roll-turners made in Germany; and a complete series of Ediphone dictaphones manufactured by the Edison Company.
Castel Sant’Angelo National Museum, Lungotevere Castello, 50. Tel. 681.91.11. Tues.-Sun. 9am-8pm, Closed Mondays. Admission charge; children under 17 and seniors over 60 are free. This castle was built by the Emperor Hadrian (117-138) as a mausoleum for himself and his successors and was completed in 139 A.D. by Antonius Pius. In 271, the Emperor Aurelian incorporated the pile into the defense system he designed. It lost its function as a tomb and became a fortress. From that time, it was the seat of a garrison that nevertheless did not prevent the sack of the city by Alaric in 410, the occupation of Rome by Totila in 546, and the sack of the Basilica of St. Peter by the Saracens in 846. According to a legend which grew up between the 10th and 12th centuries, during a procession led by Pope Gregory the Great in 590 to pray for the end of the plague, an angel appeared on the top of the mausoleum in the act of putting his sword back in its sheath, that gesture was interpreted as a divine sign of the end of the plague. In remembrance of the miracle, a chapel was built on the mausoleum and on top of the Castle was also placed a statue of the Archangel Michael. During the papacy of Nicholas III (1277-1280), the “Passetto di Borgo” was built; this was a covered passageway that allowed the Pope to move from the Vatican palace to the fortress without being seen. The castle remained a fortress, a prison, and, in certain periods housed the Vatican treasury and archives; even after Rome became the capital of a united Italy in 1870, it continued as a barracks and prison until 1886. For a history of the “Passetto di Borgo”, check out Andrea Pollett’s essay and photographs of it on his website (listed as the first link on my links page). This is a beautiful museum that should be visited. The Atrium leads to the spiral ramp, 125 m. long, that makes a complete turn of the castle’s cylindrical nucleus, with an elevation of 12 m., arriving at the cella of the imperial tombs, in which were preserved the ashes of Hadrian’s successors (down perhaps to Caracalla) and their families. Looking into the courtyard of “Cortile delle Palle” (after the pile of stone cannon balls), is a marble aedicola ornamenting the side of the church designed by Michelangelo for Leo X. Of special interest is Pauline Hall with its exquisite marble floors and walls, and frescoed vaulted ceilings. Along the top corridor facing away from the Tiber is a nice outdoor cafe where you can enjoy a cup of latte. Note the frescoes on the ceilings of the corridors outside, though weather-beaten, are still visible. There are museum rooms in the courtyard that has the pile of stone cannon balls that contain armored suits, weapons, and costumes of the time.
Numismatical Museum of the Italian Mint, Ministry of the Treasury and the Budget, via XX Settembre, 97. Tel. 476.13317. Weekdays 9am-11am. Closed Sundays. Admission charge. Visitors must present an identifying document at the entrance. This museum opened in 1961 by architect Franco Minissi in rooms on the ground floor of the Ministry of Finance building, an imposing structure built by architect R. Canevari in 1877. The rooms contain medals coined by artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as a collection of annual pontifical medals from Martin V to the present. Curved jeweler’s showcases in the second room contain a collection of Italian coins from 1861 to the present.
Museum of Musical Instruments, Piazza S. Croce in Gerusalemme, 9a. Tel. 757.59.36. Weekdays 9am-2pm, closed Sunday. Admission charge. This museum was opened in 1974 and is situated in one wing of the former Principe di Piemonte Barracks, built in 1903 with access from the garden adjoining to the Church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme on its left. The portico leading to the vestibule overlooks an area of exceptional archaeological interest. Most important is the collection belonging to tenor Evan Gorga that passed to the State in 1950. Instruments are set out in 15 rooms. There is a rare piece in Room XV, a pianoforte made in 1722 by its inventor, Bartolomeo Cristofori.
Burcardo Theatrical Collection, via del Sudario, 44. Tel. 654.07.55. Weekdays 9am-1:30pm. Closed Sundays and all of August. Admission charge. The collection of theatrical material made by the Societa Italiana degli Autori ed Editori (Italian Authors and Publishers Association) takes its name from the building where it is housed, which is called del Burcardo after the pontifical Master of Ceremonies Giovanni Burckhardt, who had it built at the end of the 15th century. The Palazzo houses an extensive library and the museum, which was opened in 1932 and occupies the ground and first floor. Some interesting items contained here are: stage costumes belonging to Tatiana Pavlova, and playbills, costumes worn by various actresses and actors, autographs, caricatures, etc.
SPECIAL INTEREST MUSEUMS
National Museum of the History of Spaghetti and Pasta (Museo Nazionale delle Paste Alimentari), Piazza Scanderberg, 117, Tel. 06/699.11.19 or 699.1120. Admission charge. Open daily 9:30am-12:30pm and 6-7pm daily. This is Rome’s National Museum of Pasta. Small galleries named the Wheat Room and the Ligurian Room unfold the saga of pasta and it’s present-day production.
Waxworks Museum, Piazza Venezia, 67 (on side of SS. Apostoli). Tel. 67976.482. 9am-8pm every day. Admission charge. This museum was conceived by Canini in 1953, after his visit to the Museum of Madame Tussaud in London and to that of Grevin in Paris. The first exhibit opened in 1958. Of note is the duplication of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris as Napoleon Bonaparte crowns himself Emperor of Franch in 1804; King Solomon of Israel; Pope John XXIII appointing a new Cardinal; Michelangelo Buonarroti, Machiavelli, Leonardo Da Vinci, Lorenzo and Caterina de’Medici, Christopher Columbus, a theatre box in Washington, D.C. in 1865 with Abraham Lincoln in it; Winston Churchill, Stalin, Roosevelt, Mao Tse Tung, Khruschev, Verdi, Strauss, Toscanini, Puccini, Wagner, Picasso, Goya, Nobel, Hitler, Pasteur, Himmler, Galilei, Fermi, and Marconi.
Museum of Criminology, via Giulia, 52. Tel. 656.88.49. This museum was opened in 1931 on the initiative of the Ministry of Justice with the aim of collecting everything relating to crime and the means by which it is carried out, but also in order to illustrate the activity of crime prevention and the treatment of convicts. It is located in the Palazzo del Gonfalone, which is today also the seat of the “Centro Studi Penitenziari” (Center for the study of Penitentiaries). It extends over three floors with 31 rooms grouped in four sections. Ground Floor – Rooms I and II – material relating to swindles and forgeries, including forged coins and bank notes and the tools employed to make them, as well as statuettes, earthenware, bronzes, and coins, perfect imitations of ancient masterpieces. Room III – first of four rooms dedicated to material relating to murders and damages, including the material employed during the famous robbery at the Banca Popolare of Via Osoppo in Milan in 1958 (among them the blue overalls worn by the seven bandits to make them all look alike – clever!). Room IV – axes, hatches, and kitchen knives used by the soapmaker of Corregio. Room V – swords used in the famous duel in Rome in 1898 between Felice Cavallotti, Member of Parliament, and Count Ferruccio Macola, in which Cavallotti, after 23 duels, came to the end of the myth of his invulnerability. Room VI – precious objects and jewels owned by bandits Gaspare Pisciotta and Salvatore Giuliano of Montelepre. Room VII – different objects relating to the murder of Umberto I by anarchists. Room VIII – devoted to smuggling. It shows the underwater boat equipped with everything necessary for the transportation of smuggled goods from Switzerland to Italy through Lugano Lake. First Floor – The most scientific and suggestive in the museum. Near the entrance is a model of the “Virgin of Nuremberg”, an instrument of torture used in Germany and Spain until the 16th century, in which the condemned were shut and crushed. Room IX – devoted to smuggling of archaeological artifacts. Room X – first of the historical section, with a series of proclamations against outlaws and bandits. There are knucklebusters, truncheons, and beautiful ancient daggers with inlaid handles. Room XI – devoted to espionage which displays a trunk, studied in every detail for the transporting of a person, the Egyptian spy Luck Marco; discovered, however, before the trunk was loaded onto the airplane at Fiumicino Airport. Room XII – dedicated to gambling, among other objects, a beautiful roulette wheel. Room XIII – photographs and material connected with the bomb attempts of Cima Calloria and Collesia. Rooms XIV and XV – examples of police investigations. Room XVI – contains complete typology of criminals; includes the skull of the Calabrian brigant Vilella. Room XVII – contains material employed in burglary and housebreaking. Room XVIII – contains the skeleton of a German mercenary soldier, condemned to die in an iron cage having the shape of a human body. On the walls are prints showing the painful story of Beatrice Cenci up to her decapitation in front of Castel Sant’Angelo. Room XIX – collection of clothes used by headmen, still stained with blood. (Warwick Castle’s torture dungeon in England has nothing on this exhibit!) In the execution room, there are several platforms that gallows and guillotines are shown. There are also the guillotines of Lecce and of Rome, and the “Sword of Justice” used in the 16th century, that was found in the bed of the Tiber. Room XX – contains instruments of torture, including the mask known as the “Bridle of Gossips”, an instrument of punishment used in the Middle Age, apparently to limit the loquacity of wives. Second Floor – Room XXI – devoted to smuggling of archaeological artifacts. Room XXII – devoted to pornography and drugs. Room XXIII – devoted to the historical section with ann exposition of prison uniforms. Rooms XXIX-XXV-XXVI-XXVII – contain objects relating to prisoners’ shrewd ideas for contriving useful objects for means of hiding and escape. Room XXVIII – devoted to means of confinement. Rooms XXIX and XXX – contain various burglary tools, among them keys and picklocks. Finally, Room XXXI – entirely devoted to cutting and stabbing weapons and to firearms. Certainly not a museum for the squeamish, but interesting nonetheless. This museum is not recommended for children.
Museum of the Central Institute for Pathology of Books, via Milano, 76. Tel. 464.474 or 483.947. Museum can be visited by appointment only. This museum displays the case histories of damage caused to books by exceptional happenings (earthquake, flood, and war), by physical agents (light and heat), by chemical agents (acid inks), and by biological agents (insects and micro-organisms). Very interesting.
Museum of the Owls’ Lodge (Museo della Casina delle Civette), Villa Torlonia, Via Nomentana, 70, Tel. 06/44.25.00.72, April 1-Sept. 30, Tues.-Sun. 9am-7pm; Oct. 1-Mar. 31, Tues.-Sun. 9am-5pm. Closed on Mondays. Built in 1840, this villa’s stained-glass windows collection was added in the 1920s. It was turned into a museum to share the beauty of its Art-Nouveau stained-glass windows. Villa Torlonia was Mussolini’s residence during the 1920s. The grounds are worthy of strolling through if you are in the area.
International Museum of the Christmas Crib, via Tor de’Conti, 31/A. Tel. 679.61.46. Oct. to May, Wed., Sat. 6pm-8pm. Visit by appointment including groups. From Dec. 24 to Jan. 15, weekdays 4pm-8pm, Hol. 10am-1pm and 3pm-8pm. Admission charge. This lost art of miniaturization is taught at this museum, that is also a school. They have nativity scenes from around the world – even Japan. One of my favorite museums. Founded in 1967, the museum exhibits cribs and figures of historical and documentary importance, coming from 29 different countries. More than 3,000 cribs (nativity cribs) and figures constitute a lively picture of how the Birth of Jesus has been interpreted in the different countries and of the variety of materials that can be used: paper, wax, ceramics, dough, straw, lead, tin foil, glass, sugar. There is also a collection of stamps, coins, emblems, plaques, and medals with the crib motif from all over the world. This is among my ‘must see’ museums to see when you are in Rome. It is located behind the Trajan Markets excavations on Via Tor de’Conti.
Museum of the Argentina Theatre, Teatro Argentina, 21. Via dei Barbieri. Tel. 687.53.90. Visits by appointment only. This museum is housed in two rooms on the top floor of the theatre where there is also the last remaining of the eight “incavallature” (supporting structures for a roof) built in 1731 by Nicola Zabaglia. On display are photographs and original material connected with the history of the Argentina Theatre.
There are several museums and sights that are definitely in the weird or strange category and all of them are contained within churches. They are:
Museo della Anime dei Defunti. This very strange small museum is found in a church called Sacro Cuore del Suffragio, located at Lungo Tevere Prati 12, a neo-gothic church located next to the Hall of Justice off Ponte Umberto I on the Prati side of the Tiber. There is no admission and the hours are 7:30 a.m.-11 a.m. and 5 p.m.-7:30 p.m. The weird thing about this museum is that it is devoted to dead souls that are trapped in purgatory who keep leaving messages for the living.
Capuchin Monks Cemetery/Crypts. Also described on my Churches and Basilicas page, this set of five underground crypts is located under Santa Maria della Concezione where via Veneto meets Piazza Barberini. The crypts contain the remains of over 4,000 monks and a Barberini princess. The walls and ceiling are elaborately decorated with the bones in astonishing patterns. Their normal hours have been summers 9a-noon and 3p-6p, winter 930a-noon and 3p-6p. No cameras allowed, but there have been postcards available for purchase. Pictures can be found of these chapels on my Photo Gallery page.
Santa Maria dell’Orazione e Morte. This church, Saint Mary of Prayer and Death, is a church of the 18th century which is garnished with images of skulls, skeletons, and death. It is located on via Giulia, and it is open at 6 p.m. on Sundays for mass only.
Other churches housing images of skeletons worth seeing are:
In Santa Maria del Popolo, located at the far end of piazza del Popolo, there are numerous skeleton figures marking graves on the floors of the church as well as on the walls.
In St. Peter’s Basilica, to the left of Bernini’s Baldacchino near the left transcept, is a doorway in which a full skeleton seems to be bellowing into the Basilica from underneath the top of the doorway wearing a flowing red granite hooded cape and carrying a hour-glass. It is part of Bernini’s Monument to Alexander VII. Not to be missed!
In San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains) Basilica, on the left wall as you are facing the altar, is a painting framed with standing skeletons. I have no idea what the painting is of, but the frame caught my eye as being rather strange for a church.