The Borghese Gallery and walking around Flood lit Rome at night

This is my final post from this series documenting my Italian Vacation. This post describes an evening spent at the Borghese Gallery and our last evening just walking around the centre of Rome.

The Borghese gallery is a small art gallery in Rome known for its beautiful Bernini marble sculptures and sprawling well manicured gardens surrounding it. It was on my must do list in Rome as much for the sculptures as for the gardens. But the only time it was open during our three day stay in Rome was on the evening we arrived from Orvieto. Rather than miss it altogether I decided to make a quick visit to the museum itself and leave the gardens for some other time we were in Rome (Hopefully!)

The Borghese gallery sells only limited tickets for a time slot and is hence never very crowded like most good museums. We had bought our tickets online and had to collect them at the gallery at a predetermined time. So we just rushed to the hotel in a taxi from the Termini station, dropped our bags in our room and rushed off again. We got a female Micheal Schumacher as a taxi driver and she zoomed through the streets and got us there in no time. Thanks to her we were on time and collected our tickets without any fuss at the reserved ticket window. We then lined up with the others in our allotted two hours and entered the museum.

The gallery is the collection of one person, a Cardinal Borghese and housed in a villa in a corner of Rome that has no other notable sights. Most of the sculptures in the centre of the rooms were commissioned for these very rooms and that makes them seem natural and not out of place. The rooms themselves are typically baroque with painted & gilded ceilings fit for royalty.

The opulent and beautiful Borghese Gallery

The main focus of these rooms are the magnificent lifelike sculptures by Bernini in the centre of the room with lesser known art pieces (lesser doesn’t mean less beautiful!) along the walls. I am not going to attempt to describe the art, but notice the anatomic accuracy, lifelike expressions and superb details of these sculptures.

Pluto & Porsephina – The God forcefully taking Porsephina to the netherworld The Expressions, the contorted bodies make the stone look like soft tissue
Apollo & Daphne – Apollo chases Daphne who is turning into a tree just as he catches up.. Amazing transformation from human body to the tree trunk
A non Bernini ancient Roman sculpture at the Borghese gallery – The lack of crowds makes it a great place for photography
Aeneas, Anchises and Ascanius – Three generations of a family fleeing persecution            Note the difference in skin texture of the old man on the shoulders to the child at the bottom
Canova’s sculpture of Pauline Borghese – Such attention to detail is amazing to see

But my absolute favourite Bernini piece in this museum is David. This is not the thoughtful David as Michelangelo carved him but a full on action David. Just about to hurl his slingshot at Goliath, the tensed lips, contorted muscles and perfect posture captured in stone for posterity. Just breathtaking!

David by Bernini – My Favourite Sculpture in this gallery

We wandered around the rest of the gallery which had a Caravaggio exhibition coming up the next day so most of one section was boarded up. Anyway we were very tired by now having walked a lot in the morning in Orvieto and then had the train journey to Rome. So we saw the Bernini masterpieces one last time before we exited the museum and took a taxi back to our B&B. We picked up a take away pasta and mini pizzas and a bottle of red wine on the way for dinner to have in the comfort of our room. We  had our dinner and promptly dropped off to sleep, ending our 1st evening in Rome.

For the next two days we visited the heavy weight sights of Rome and Vatican city which have separate posts in my blog. So on our last evening in Rome after we exited the Vatican we decided to have a long walk back to the centre of Rome. Just across the bridge across the Tiber is the Castel St Angelo, which was originally Emperor Hadrian’s Tomb. We had no time to visit it but it looks very picturesque all lit up with the bridge leading up to it.

Castel St Angelo with the bridge leading up to it over the still waters of the Tiber

We walked to the bridge to see it close up and moreover to click photos of the bridge with the dome of St Peters from the distance. Rome is one of the best lit cities I have seen. All its monuments are immaculately lit up and deserve a look at night.

The bridge leading up to Vatican City lit up at night

We then decided to save some time & energy taking a cab to Piazza Venezia from where we walked around this beautiful square with the typewriter ( National Monument of Victor Emmanuel) at one end and Trajan’s Forum and Column at the other. It looks so beautiful and very peaceful sans all the crowds of the day. It again made me very happy about the location of our B&B which made all this after dark roaming possible.

Piazza Venezia sans the crowds at night

We then crossed over and climbed Michelangelo’s grand staircase up Capitoline hill which was now all lit up. If lights can transform any place from beautiful to simply magical it’s the top of Capitoline hill. I was surprised that there were so few people on top, but I wasn’t complaining as it made my photos better.

Capitoline Hill all lit up – The most beautiful night site in Rome

We got down from the other side and walked some distance till we could see the Colosseum lit up, but frankly we were too tired to go right up to it as we had something in mind for the last thing we wanted to do in Rome. So we just looked at it from a distance and turned back.

The road leading upto the Colosseum with the lit up arena in the distance

I found it strange that Trajan’s Forum was lit up better than the Roman Forum itself. So I took photos of the better lit and oft ignored in the day Forum. This again shows how much beautiful lighting can transform a structure.

Trajan’s Forum and market

The last thing we had planned for our time in Rome was a night time visit to the Trevi fountain. We had gone to the fountain early in the morning once, but we wanted to see it all lit up. This time we didn’t get lost and reached the fountain without any missed turns. The fountain though more crowded at night was definitely more beautiful and memorable this way. We still got space to sit around the fountain and just enjoy the view for a few minutes.

The Trevi Fountain – Much more memorable at night inspite of the crowds

It was getting late and we had a morning flight to catch, so we then reluctantly got up and went to the Bar & Cafe Trevi had our last Tiramisu for this trip. It had been a great two days in Rome. Truthfully before the trip I had been apprehensive of the eternal city with all the travel sites & some known people reporting pickpockets, bag snatching, touts. But they didn’t emphasise enough how beautiful and vibrant this city is. I am certainly glad I didn’t give it a miss and I loved it so much that I certainly want to be back some day. So to ensure that I threw a coin over my shoulder into the Trevi fountain as tradition demands.

Our last Tiramisu in Rome – At the Bar & Cafe Trevi
Tossing a coin over the shoulder into the fountain to be back in Rome some day

That ends my series on my Italian Vacation. It had been a great 11 days traversing this country from Venice to Tuscany to Umbria to Rome. Hope you had at least a fraction of the fun we had on this trip reading about our experiences. And I certainly hope I make a few people think about the places we have been to for their next vacation.

Till my next post.


One comment

  1. Pity ur holiday ended and with it the posts. I enjoyed waiting for each one. Great sculptures. I now understand your obsession to see this gallery. But best of all was Rome at night. The bridge to the Vatican and it’s reflection in the waters and the trevi fountain were spectacular. Waiting for next trip

    Liked by 1 person

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