You have to pre-book tickets with a set entry time and you only have two hours- but it is totally worth it. Three reasons why going to the Borghese Gallery in Rome was a great idea.
Reason 1 : the villa itself
This villa was built specifically to display art, in most cases, the pieces that are still in the rooms. In a typical display of wealth, the Borghese family designed the rooms and curated the pieces at the same time, creating harmony between the art displayed and the rooms themselves. I read this before going and sarcastically thought ‘oh great’, but when I arrived I realised how much of a difference it makes. Different colours, patterns and styles or themes are reflected throughout the room. Unlike in typical modern galleries with monochrome, plain walls that are intended to let the art speak for itself, here the different colours, styles and pieces merge to show different interpretations of the central theme and tell a bigger story.
Reason 2: the variety
Interested in sculpture? Painting? Classical? Baroque? Modern? ok- so modern isn’t always an option here, but the collection is wide and varied including sculpture, painting, mosaic, and the list goes on! I was particularly interested in seeing the work by Carvaggio, who fascinated me when I studied art history because of the use of the ‘chiaroscuro’ technique, and the statues by Bernini, which reflect classical subjects. (I’m quite the Greek-myth nerd, and was able to tell the stories behind many of the different works that were featured). When we visited we even ogled at a temporary exhibition by Mat Collishaw, which used movement, and light and dark to create new effects or to change the stories told by other paintings in the gallery. Although fans of Picasso might not find much in that style, are so many other things to see!
Reason 3: the masterpieces
The Borghese gallery is one of the most famous in Italy for a reason. Seeing the detail on the leaves in Bernini’s statue of Apollo and Daphne is just stunning- as is the expression of his David. The Carvaggio colours are far more exquisite in real life than in pictures, and there are so many other important and wonderful works in this gallery that one almost gets overwhelmed. I suspect that this is where it might be useful to book an earlier viewing of the the gallery, because although the visit is intended to be restricted to two hours, I’m not sure how or if they can enforce this.
The gallery has a few different price categories (I got in for ‘half price’ as an EU citizen under 25 years of age), and comes free with the Roma Pass. Make sure to figure out what the best deal is for you and go and enjoy! If you have the time, make sure to also explore the large park around the villa!