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Destination Rome: Villa and Galleria Borghese

The Villa Borghese Park is the green "heart" of Rome. Designed in 1605 for the hedonistic Cardinal Scipione Borghese (favorite nephew of Pope Paul V), modified over the centuries by his successors, purchased by the state in the early twentieth century, this public park is today, a real garden of delights.

The park encompasses within its 6 km in circumference, neoclassical statues, exotic buildings, an artificial lake, an aviary, numerous fountains, gardens and groves, a riding school, a zoo (the Bioparc), an amphitheater (Piazza di Siena ) and some museums.

The most famous is the Museo e Galleria Borghese, one of city’s most important art museums, housed in the homonymous seventeenth-century villa (known as the Casino Borghese) designed to preserve the magnificent Borghese private collection, initially gathered by Scipione, to which is due it’s most important nucleus. The villa is divided into two sections: the collection of sculptures (Museum) on the ground floor, among which you can admire some of Bernini's masterpieces ("Rape of Proserpine”, "Apollo and Daphne ") and the famous Paolina Borghese portrayed by Canova; and the Art Gallery (Gallery) on the first floor, which includes works by great masters such as Tiziano, Raffaello, Caravaggio, Rubens.

You can not fully understand the history of Villa Borghese and its masterpieces without a brief story of Scipione Borghese. Son of the sister of Camillo Borghese, who became in 1605 Paul V, Pope but also important champion of nepotism, Scipione was decreed Cardinal immediately after the election of his uncle, just two months away. Scipione had only 26 years and was entrusted several important tasks of responsibility: he was prefect of the Congregation of the Council, protector of churches, religious orders and regions, Grand Penitentiary, Archbishop of Bologna, and more. But despite all the heavy commitments he never ceased to devote himself to his true passion: art. Subsidizer of prodigious talents such as Caravaggio, Bernini, Nicolas Cardier, Guido Reni, Domenichino and Rubens, to name a few, Scipione was also renowned and feared for the lack of scruples with which he got the artwork.

"Do not give me the picture? In prison!"

It was a victim of this ruthlessness and arrogance Domenichino that in 1616-17 was imprisoned for refusing to hand over to the Cardinal the painting Hunt of Diana that he had been ordered by another cardinal, Pietro Aldobranchini. But also the Brothers of the church of San Francesco in Perugia were taken away without their consent a masterpiece of Raffaello the Deposition. Why don’t tell the absurd story of the Cavalier d'Arpino, the painter Giuseppe Celesti, to whom in 1607 were confiscated 107 paintings that the father gave of course to the nephew to increase its already impressive collection. The collection of Scipione Borghese was already considerable when the Cardinal in 1609 acquired a building in Via della Conciliazione, next to St. Peter. This house became the first home of the collection which remained there until he moved into the villa off of Pinciana door, in the upper part of Villa Borghese.

The Borghese Gallery

The art work are divided into twenty rooms distributed on two floors. On the ground floor are located in the entrance hall and in eight rooms, sculptures, not only the old ones, but also those which the same Scipione Borghese ordered to the artists of the period, in addition to those received in the following centuries. A spiral staircase leads from the ground floor to the first floor in twelve halls make up the Gallery develops on 12 rooms with hundreds of paintings that constitute an anthology of paintings from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. A huge collection, great, unique, where all schools are represented the Italian and Florentine Mannerism and, the Lombard, Ferrara, Florence, Siena, Brescia, Venetian and Roman schools.

Works must-see at the Borghese Gallery:

Canova and Bernini: Paolina Borghese, Apollo and Daphne, David and the Rape of Proserpine

At the center of the first room, stands one of the most famous statues in the world, Pauline Borghese lying executed between 1805 and 1808 by Antonio Canova. No less famous is, in the second room, the David that Cardinal Scipione commissioned the young Gian Lorenzo Bernini; again Bernini's Apollo and Daphne is in the middle of the third room and in the fourth the marble group depicting Pluto abducting Proserpina. The fifth room is called the Hermaphrodite because of the presence of a Greek sculpture of Hermaphrodite, which dates back to the first century after Christ. Two other works by Bernini are in the sixth room, Aeneas and Anchises, and the Truth, while in the seventh room, the Egyptian, there are two statues of Isis, one in bronze dating to the first-century AD, the other in black marble, around 150 AD.

Caravaggio so loved by Scipione Borghese

Caravaggio was the favorite author of Cardinal Borghese, so no wonder that here six works are part of the collection: Our Lady of the Grooms (or Serpent), the famous Boy with a Basket of Fruit, The Sick Bacchus, St. Jerome Writing, St. John the Baptist and David with the head of Goliath, Caravaggio's self-portrait.


The most present artist (after Caravaggio) is Raffaello with three paintings: Portrait of a Man, Portrait of Young Woman with Unicorn, and the Baglioni Deposition. The way the Deposition reached Rome is indicative of the character of Scipione Borghese: painted for Atalanta Baglioni in memory of her son Grifonetto, killed in the struggle for the rule of Perugia, the picture was in the church of San Francesco in Perugia. Here remained for 101 years, until, with the complicity of the local clergy, was picked up and sent to Paul V, who gave it to his nephew for the collection.

Tiziano’s Sacred and Profane Love

Tiziano just 25, painted in 1514 "The Sacred and Profane Love" for the wedding of Nicolò Aurelio, Venetian and Laura Bagarotto. Venus herself assists the candid bride, close to Love. The two women of similar perfection symbolize one the "short happiness on earth" with the attribute of the vessel of jewels and the other eternal and heavenly happiness, holding the burning flame of God's love.


Opening hours: Mon - Sun (09.00 AM - 07.00 PM)

Admission: €13 adults, €6 18-25 years old, free for under 18 + reservation

Web site

How to reach: Metro Spagna (A), bus Pinciana/Museo Borghese (52, 53, 63, 83, 92, 223, 360, 910)

AddressPiazzale Napoleone 1, 00197 Roma RM


Born in Riccione, a seaside town on the Italian coast of the Adriatic Sea. Of Italian father and a Russian mother, I always define myself a crossroads of cultures, in fact I never identified with a nationality, considering myself a real world citizen.
From the early years of life I've traveled, living periods of time abroad, experiences that have further increased my openness towards the new and the different, and the ability to think outside the box.
I'm graduated Expert for Tourism, and continued hmy studies with a Masters Degree in Economics and Management. During and after the studies, I had a multitude of different jobs, mostly oriented towards tourism (my true passion, together with art and opera). Since 2008 I lives in Milan, working in the finance department of an Italian multinational company.
My passion for culture, led me to found in 2013, Kitabu, a publishing house specializing in the publication of books in electronic format, with which in 2015 I launched various projects regarding web-based magazines about different cultural and leisure themes, on of wich is TravelTv.
Despite the many commitments, however, I've never stopped traveling extensively the world, trying in every place to identify myself with the local population.

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