The Galleria Borghese is located in the northeast corner of the Villa Borghese. Although this beautiful and sprawling villa was on the outskirts of Rome when built in the seventeenth century, it is now a short walk from the Spanish Steps and Spagna Metro station.
Bernini Sculptures the Highlight of the Galleria Borghese
Perhaps the most impressive works in the Borghese collection are sculptures by the Baroque master Gianlorenzo Bernini, which are displayed prominently at the center of many gallery rooms.
Bernini's works at the Galleria Borghese depict figures from Greco-Roman epics and the Bible. For instance, his Aeneas and Anchises dramatizes an early episode from Virgil's Aeneid, while Apollo and Daphne interprets an equally-famous story from Ovid's Metamorphoses.
Bernini's David, meanwhile, takes the same subject as Michelangelo's famous sculpture in Florence, but gives the Biblical hero a radically different treatment. Bernini's David is far more dynamic, and his features are even said to be modeled on Bernini's own.
Bernini sculptures aren't the only attraction of the Galleria Borghese. Paintings and other objets d'art fill the rooms on the main floor, some of them masterpieces in their own right.
Antonio Canova's famous Neo-classical sculpture of Pauline Bonaparte, Napoleon's sister, is the centerpiece of one room. The semi-nude reclining portrait, depicting Pauline as Venus Victrix, was quite risqué art for the early nineteenth century.
The ground floor and upper floor also feature paintings by a number of Italian and Flemish masters. Caravaggio is represented with such works as David with the Head of Goliath, and Raphael's early Deposition is also in the collection. There are works by Corregio, Titian, Pieter Paul Reubens, Albrecht Dürer, and Lucas Cranach too.
Advice about Tickets and Reservations
Because of the Galleria Boghese's small size, admittance is strictly limited to 360 visitors at any given time. Tickets to the gallery are only valid for a two-hour period, and reservations must be made beforehand. This can be done by phone, online, or in person.
While it is possible to show up at the Galleria Borghese and get a ticket for later the same day, during peak times, tickets can be sold out days in advance. Visitors to the gallery in summer are advised to make ticket reservations as early as they can.
The Galleria Borghese may be small, and its ticketing system restrictive. But its masterpieces by Bernini and others, and its palatial setting, make the gallery a world-class attraction in a city that has more than its share.