While the historical center of Rome seems to be the most compact and popular tourist area of Rome, the outskirts of the capital are just as worth searching out. The Borghese Gallery, together with the National Gallery of Modern Art and the National Etruscan Museum, delineate another tourist area worth appreciating for its cultural sights.

The history of the Borghese Collection goes back to the early 17th century, when Scipione Borgheze, back then a Cardinal and nephew of the pope, keen art collector and admirer of the arts, gathered together the nucleus of the present collection showcased at Villa Borghese. The villa, in fact, was, at least in part, built following the guidelines of Scipione Borghese, under the supervision of Flaminio Ponzio.

In time, the collection extended, but it also lost some of the most notable of its exhibits (in the early 19th century when Camillo Borghese, a nephew of Scipione, married Pauline, sister of Napoleon, who insisted to sell or to alienate sundry masterpieces, such that, for instance, the Borghese Gladiator and the Borghese Hermaphrodite are displayed now at the Louvre Museum). There are, however, plenty of highlights to be admired at the villa.

While strolling around the 20 rooms which fill the two floors of the edifice, visitors can admire, for instance, some valuable works by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (two busts of Pope Paul V, a portrait of Scipione Borghese, the Rape of Proserpine, the Goat Amalthea with Infant Jupiter and Faun, David and a dramatic Apollo and Daphne), gathered here by grace of Scipione Borghese himself, admirer of the work and talent of the back then young emerging Bernini. Other masterpieces are signed by Caravaggio (Saint Jerome, Sick Bacchus, Boy with a Basket of Fruit), Raphael (a Deposition), Tititan (Sacred and Profane Love), Federico Barocci and Peter Paul Rubens. But Canova’s Venus Victrix is, perhaps, the most famous exhibit at Villa Borghese. Ironically, this real size sculpture was created by Canova who was inspired by Pauline herself (the one who, as said, alienated some of the priceless masterpieces of the collection).

On top of the sculptural and pictorial works of the Borghese Collection, Villa Borghese is also home to a Museum of Musical Instruments. Most of the exhibits, which, by their specificity and origin, retrace the history of music in sundry ancient cultural spaces (Rome, Greece, Egypt, Oceania and Asia even), were donated by Evan Gorga, Italian tenor, him too keen collector of antiques and art works.

Borghese Gallery (Galleria Borghese)
5, Piazzale del Museo Borghese, 00197, Rome, Italy
0039 06 32810
0039 06 32651329 / 0039 06 8555952
[email protected]
Opening hours:
Tuesday to Sunday: 8:30am to 7:30pm