Because this wasn’t our first time in Rome, we had the opportunity to visit some of the smaller museums first-time visitors usually skip in favor of the big sightseeing hotspots of the Forum, Colosseum, and Vatican Museums. These three museums all had a common thread; they were all in former palaces (palazzos) belonging to a wealthy or noble family.
The first was the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj near Piazza Navona. The palazzo houses the private collection of a noble family. It was started in 1651 by Pope Innocent X Pamphilj. Inside there is artwork by such masters as Caravaggio, Velázquez, Brueghel el Viejo, Bernini, and Rafael. The Gallery of Mirrors (top photo) was brought from Venice and was designed around 1730.
Nearby is the famous Cat Street (via della Gatta). Make sure you check out the ancient marble cat on top of the corner of the building!
Next up was Galleria Corsini, located across the river just north of Trastevere. The building was constructed in 1511 by Cardinal Raffaele Riario and later became when it became the residence of Queen Christina of Sweden in the mid-1600’s. In 1736 it became the home of the wealthy Florentine Corsini family after Lorenzo Corsini became Pope Clement XII. Finally, in 1883, the property and the entire collection were donated to the Italian State.
The gardens behind the palazzo are the Botanical Gardens of Rome. We did not have time to visit them.
Directly across the street from the Galleria Corsini is the Villa Farnesina. The villa was built in the early 1500’s and eventually owned by the Farnese family. In the 1920’s it was taken over by the Italian state and turned into a museum.
Below, the Loggia of Cupid and Psyche.
Below, the hall of perspectives. Those pillars are all painted trompe l’oeil.
Below, the bedchamber, depicting the wedding of Alexander the Great and his bride Roxana.
Below, the “room of the freeze”, which was used as a waiting room for guests. Around the top of the room are frescoes of the Twelve Labors of Hercules as well as other myths. The “fabric” you see on the walls is actually painted on.
In all, we enjoyed checking out these jewels. None were crowded, even in the high summer season. If I had to recommend just one, I’d probably say go see the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj which felt the most like a place that had been lived in.