Five years in Rome and zero visits to Galleria Borghese.
How is that possible?
My grandfather was an artist. My husband and my aunts are artists. My sister works in the arts.
I have been raised on art, and yet I have repeatedly missed Galleria Borghese.
Last week, I decided enough was enough and booked an early morning ticket to see the permanent collection that many people argue makes up the best museum in Rome. (Note: you really do need to book Galleria Borghese tickets in advance).
I won’t lie, though. As much as I appreciate classical art, I am a modern girl. One of the things that finally pushed me over the edge and made me get online to book my ticket was the “Couture/Sculpture” exhibit that is currently on show.
The show features 65 gowns by Azzedine Alaïa, juxtaposed against some of the most famous classical sculptures in the world.
The Galleria is breathtaking in terms of the ornate decor of every single room.
Add in the sculptured elegance of Alaïa couture? It is absolutely remarkable.
I breezed through the rooms with a dropped jaw, kicking myself for not having made the time to visit earlier.
Then I circled back through both floors of the gallery for a second time to linger among so very many beautiful objects.
The gallery is housed in Villa Borghese Pinciana, a former 17th-century party house for the Borghese family on the edge of Rome.
On display is a large part of the Borghese family collection of marble sculptures, baroque decorative art, and paintings (including some impressive Caravaggios).
The museum is manageable in size, which is lucky as you are only allowed a two-hour window to explore the 20 rooms.
Between the Caravaggios and Berninis, it is hard to know where to look first.
The gallery is also home to a sculpture by Antonio Canova of Pauline Bonaparte, Napoleon’s sister, who was often described as the most beautiful woman in the world.
So much beauty on just two floors.
The Alaïa exhibit pictured here took place in 2015 and has ended but the museum is constantly planning new exhibits and has some world-class temporary shows, including one dedicated to Bernini. This was my first trip to Galleria Borghese, but it certainly has not been my last.
And if you can’t make that small window of opportunity, know that Galleria Borghese is famous for not only its collection but its curation. They do a fantastic job of placing modern pieces against their enviable catalog of classics. These special exhibits do raise the price by €5 but it is always more than worth it.
When you finish exploring the gorgeousness inside, you can take a break in the gardens that lay beyond the gallery, and then explore the rest of Villa Borghese at your leisure for a few moments of reprieve from the chaos of the city below.
To visit Galleria Borghese, you must reserve ahead of time. You can book your tickets online through the Galleria Borghese site. Tickets are €15 euro including the pre-booking fee. Booking online will add another €2 convenience fee. If you are using a Roma Pass, you must call +39 06 32810 to reserve.
If you would like to book online in English, you can use the service Tiqets. The cost is €20 instead of €17 total, but they often have additional days and times available and the website is easy to use (unlike the Italian museum page).
Piazzale Museo Borghese, 5,
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