6 places to visit in the splendor of Rome, beyond the crowds
The Baroque period gave Rome its most spectacular aspect, defining the visual style of the city, for a long time millefoglie of historical eras, which remains to this day. Roman Baroque is amplified splendor, when exuberance reigned and restraint was deliberately forgotten, to be wrapped up for other centuries to be relived. The most famous Baroque monuments, such as the Vatican and the Trevi Fountain, attracted (before the pandemic) thousands of visitors a day, and although few monuments in Rome escape crowds or queues in high season , there are many places where you can enjoy your visit. in relative peace of mind, especially if you come during the week or book a specific time. Here are six of Rome’s magnificent Baroque-era sites to visit.
Doria Pamphilj Palace (Via del Corso 305). Although it’s steps from the gleaming new Apple Store, leaping back centuries is easy as you immerse yourself in the visual richness and history of the palace, a nexus for some of Italy’s most powerful aristocratic families. since the sixteenth century. The Palazzo Doria Pamphilj has 1000 (!) Rooms (Buckingham Palace has 775) and galleries displaying works by Titian, Raphael and Caravaggio among other big names. Don’t miss the frescoed and gilded Galleria degli Specchi, the Hall of Mirrors which, like its Versailles counterpart, dazzles with unbridled opulence.
St. Ignatius Church (Church of Sant’Ignazio, Via del Caravita 8/A), a short walk from Piazza Navona, has all the dramatic flourish you would expect from a Baroque-era church with gilded ornaments, rare colored marbles, sumptuous Corinthian columns and a elaborate ceiling that ranks among the best in Rome. A masterpiece of illusionist painting, the ceiling pays homage to Saint Ignatius, founder of the Jesuit order; you look up and think you see an intricately frescoed dome, but in reality the surface is flat. Andrea Pozzo created this exceptional optical illusion when, according to tradition, money to finance an actual dome was scarce. Floor markers indicate where to stand to fully experience the di sotto en su effect.
Colonna Palace (Via della Pilotta 17) touches on all the important periods of the city’s history: a Roman temple stood on the original site of the property; a fortified structure existed at the end of the Middle Ages; and the palace served as the papal seat for a time during the 1400s. Baroque grandeur came two hundred years later, shaped by the talents of the great architects of the day, like Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Carlo Fontana. There are few better places to experience the magnificence of Baroque Rome than in the Colonna Gallery, a vast, glittering space awash in gilded moldings and decorative trim, where hundreds of Old Master paintings cover the walls. The frescoed ceiling of the Great Hall immortalizes an ancestor of Colonna, Marcantonio II, who helped defeat the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto on behalf of the papal fleet. Canvases by Bronzino, Tintoretto and Veronese, among other important pieces, can be seen in the various halls and rooms of the Galleria. (Open to the public on Saturday morning; guided tours by reservation only on Friday morning.)
Santa Maria del Popolo (Piazza del Popolo 12). This basilica, one of three churches in Piazza del Popolo, the bustling square at the base of the Trident quarter, sits on a site believed to be where the famous Emperor Nero was buried. Its beautiful Renaissance facade, although a little sober (the church has undergone many renovations over the centuries), does not give a glimpse of the Baroque and Renaissance treasures it houses, including two works by Caravaggio (Cerasi chapel) : sculptures by Lorenzetto and Bernini (Chigi chapel, designed by Raphael, who also designed its mosaic dome) and Pinturicchio’s frescoes (Della Rovere chapels).
Nazionali Barberini Corsini Gallery. Described as “one museum, two galleries”, Palazzo Barberini and Galleria Corsini are actually in different parts of the city – the former on the Quirinal Hill (Via delle Quattro Fontane 13) near Via Veneto; the latter in Trastevere (Via della Lungara 10). Both were once residences of aristocrats connected to the papacy, and both places have played an important role in the cultural history of the city. (Queen Christina of Sweden lived for a time in Palazzo Corsini, which was then owned and named after the Riario family, running salons that attracted the best artists and intellects of the time.) There are masterpieces- major works in each museum: by Pieter Paul Rubens, Caravaggio and Beato Angelico at the Galleria Corsini; by Caravaggio, Holbein, Raphael, El Greco and Bernini at the Palazzo Barberini. The ceiling fresco in Palazzo Barberini by Pietro Da Cortona is one of the most spectacular in Rome.