Visit Rome: 5 steps to not miss the most iconic masterpieces

A tour between history and beauty.

29 Apr 2019

Gruppo UNA

Dip into Rome's art museums during a short weekend break, or plan a longer stay to take in some of Europe's best art collections.

To help you make the most of your visit, we've put together a short guide about some of the best art galleries in Rome. 

1. The Vatican Museums: a glimpse into ancient Roman art and architecture.

With so much ancient and contemporary work to see, you should set aside a whole day to explore the hundreds of rooms that make up the Vatican Museums. The collections were started in 1506 when the ancient sculpture Laocoön and His Sons [/em]was put on display by Pope Julius II. While Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel must be the highlight of a Vatican tour, there is plenty of other art to enjoy. Spend a few moments gazing at Pinturicchio's frescoes in the Borgia Room or wonder at the mummies in the Egyptian Museum.

The Sistine Chapel is always busy, but there are ways of avoiding some of the most intense crowds. Plan to be at the Vatican Museums when it opens at 9:00 a.m. and head straight to the chapel. Get the exact time you want by booking online in advance. 

2. Galleria Borghese, an art gallery in Rome that's not to be missed.

Not only is the Galleria Borghese full of impressive Roman, Renaissance and Baroque art, it also sits in the beautiful setting of the Villa Borghese Park. Commissioned by Cardinal Scipione Borghese in 1613, this grand villa was designed to house his impressive art collection. Paintings by great masters such as Caravaggio, Raphael and Titian sit alongside Bernini sculptures such as Apollo and Daphne [/em]and Canova's rather risque statue, Pauline Bonaparte. You might be lucky enough to walk straight into the gallery on a (rare) quiet day, but it's always best to book a timeslot in advance. Be at the gallery 30 minutes before your entry time to pick up your ticket.

3. Capitoline Museums -- step back into a world of ancient Roman art.

The Capitoline Museums sit among the ancient ruins of the Capitoline Hill. They were the first public museums in the world, with collections that date back to the late 14th century. Pope Sixtus IV started the museums by donating bronze statues, and by the early 17th century, the collections had grown to enormous proportions. As well as showcasing bronze statues, elaborate frescoes and paintings from the medieval and Renaissance period that include works by Titian, Tintoretto and Bernini, the Capitoline Museums also deliver a fine view of the Roman Forum.

Pay a small supplement with your entry ticket to gain access to the Centrale Montemartini. This refurbished power station sees some of the Capitoline Museum's larger pieces surrounded by cogs, turbines and huge boilers.

4. Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna.

Art in Italy's capital isn't all about the ancient, and this gallery is a good example of a modern art museum in Rome.  Combine it with a visit to the adjacent Galleria Borghese. The Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna is housed in the beautiful neoclassical Palace of Fine Arts which provides the perfect complement to works dating from the late 19th century. This is the largest contemporary collection of art in Italy with pieces by Giacomo Balla and Amedeo Modigliani as well as works by famous international artists that include Van Gogh, Pollock and Kandinsky.

5. The Palazzo Doria Pamphili.

This sumptuous gallery is almost hidden away on the Via del Corso but once inside, you'll discover a secretive world of treasures and one of the largest private art collections in Rome. Raphael, Bernini, Guercino, Breughel the Elder, Hans Memling and Caravaggio are all represented here, but the Palazzo's highlights must be the Portrait of Innocent X[/em] by Velazquez as well as the ornate frescoed Gallery of Mirrors with its vaulted ceilings.

As an intriguing aside, the works in the Palazzo Doria Pamphili are still displayed according to an inventory of 1760. Your ticket price includes an audio guide that is actually narrated by Prince Jonathan Pamphili himself. Alongside artistic notes, he describes family anecdotes such as when he and his sister roller-skated through the galleries as children. 

Visiting Rome with Gruppo UNA.

If our brief glimpse into the world of Rome art museums has whetted your appetite for a cultural break, then consider a stay in the award-winning UNAHOTELS Decò Roma, the perfect art hotel in Rome. You'll be ideally placed to visit the city's galleries while enjoying the hotel's comfort and architectural style.