In September, I visited Rome for the first time. It seems absurd that it took me 28 years to get there, given what a highbrow junky I am, but there it is. I was warned before arriving that Rome could be overwhelming and I’ll admit that I struggled with the overpowering number of seemingly necessary things to see and do in this cultural hub and haven for aesthetes.
When travelling, seeing the major sites is no bad thing but often it’s the less well-trodden places that make the most memorable experience. This is usually attributable to the lack of crowds, giving the place a more intimate feel.
In Rome I discovered this glorious respite from the hoards at the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj. This grandiose palazzo right on the via del Corso is home to one of the most impressive private art collections in the world.
Of all the treasures the Doria Pamphilj Palace holds, from Caravaggio’s to works by Velasquez, I think my favourite pieces in the collection were the busts. The exquisite detail in some of the statuary that line the gallery walls had me absolutely enthralled. Below are two of my favourites.
To me the best thing about this impressive exhibition of masterpieces is that they are displayed in the same way they would have been at the time they were acquired by the family. Indeed the Palazzo is still a private residence, so you truly feel as if you are walking the halls of someones home (albeit a rather extravagant one). I always feel that seeing artworks in their original location as opposed to a larger institution is something akin to the contrast between seeing animals in their natural habitat or visiting them in a zoo. There is a magic in the feeling of time travel one gets from walking the same halls and marvelling at the same artworks that people centuries ago would have done.
For all these reasons and more, if you’re visiting Rome the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj is not to be missed.
To find out more about the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj visit their website. http://www.doriapamphilj.it/roma/en/
ps. These ceilings though…