The Eternal City – Rome 4 – Three Villas

The Galleria Doria Pamphilj is more than an art museum.  It’s a glimpse into life in an 18th century palace.  The villa is located right on the Via Corso, Rome’s “main street”, but you could easily walk right by it … we almost did.  The passageway entrance opens into a lovely courtyard. 

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You buy your ticket here and pick up an excellent audio tour.  We had the place to ourselves.  Sorry, no pictures inside but you can check out their web site.  

The audio is narrated by a descendant of the family who remembers visiting the home as a child.  He is very entertaining and tells family stories and lore as he points out the most important pieces of art and furniture.  The rooms are beautiful and the art collection is very impressive: Velazquez, Titian, Rubens, Caravaggio, Bruegel and more.  The villa still has apartments that the family uses occasionally.

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Another villa, turned art museum, is the Villa Borghese. 

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The Villa’s immense gardens are now a park on the north side of the city.

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There is a zoo on the grounds with an impressive entrance.

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We’ll have to save the zoo for another trip.

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The orangery looks like a little villa.

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Behind the Villa is a traditional sculpture garden.

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Tickets for the Galleria are timed so crowds are controlled.  Our reservation allowed us to enter at 5pm and we spent 2 hours browsing through the ornate rooms .  Wikipedia has quite a few pictures of the art collection.

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We made our way home in the dark – the only downside of traveling in November. 

The Villa Farnesina, on the north edge of the Trastevere neighborhood, is a little gem of a villa.  It was built by a banker in the early 1500s.

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Unlike most museums where the art is hung on the walls, in the Farnesina the walls are the art!. Every surface is decorated with frescos, painted by masters such as Raphael, Sebastiano del Piombo, Giovanni Bazzi and, the original architect, Peruzzi. This was my favorite villa. It is amazing!

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The mythological frieze around the top of the walls in this room was painted in 1508.  

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Drapery is painted where there are no pictures.

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The loggia was originally open to the garden. The arched windows above the doors at the end of the room are painted to look recessed like the arches to the left.   Another optical illusion.

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Up the grand staircase to the Hall of Perspective Views.

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All the walls are flat but the frescos add depth with pillars and vistas. You knew the scenes weren’t real but you really had to look carefully to see what was painted and what was architectural!  (The floor looks bent in this photo because it’s a panorama – I don’t have a wide lens.)

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The lentil above the door is real, you can see the shadow. All other depth is painted.


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The Marriage of Alexander the Great and Roxana

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A beautiful villa with a cat in the garden, what could be more purrfect.

Post Script:

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It seems not everyone was captivated by this villa….. Or are they giving Mom their rapt attention while she reads from the tour book?

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About graciamc

Gracia's Travels is a photo blog. I always take too many pictures on trips so I justify my compulsion with this blog! The blog is mostly photos - they tell the best part of the story. Please contact me if you would like to use any of my photos.
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10 Responses to The Eternal City – Rome 4 – Three Villas

  1. Alison Erickson says:

    That Villa Farnesina is incredible! PS – Sometime I’m going to have to take some photography lessons from you!

    • graciamc says:

      Hi Alison, With a small camera like mine (Sony DSC-H20) using a couple of good photo programs makes a big difference. Purists say you shouldn’t need to do anything to a good photo but there is art in cropping and enhansing.

  2. Catherine says:

    The trompe- d’oeil in the Villa Farnesina is simply stupendous. With your excellent photography — Alison is correct — and the incredible painting, the fact that nearly all the walls are flat is beyond belief. Must see this amazing place for myself!

  3. Bernice says:

    Beautiful pictures – looks like a wonderful time!

  4. Janet Freeman says:

    Thanks Gracia. The wall paintings are amazing. the whole thing is amazing really.

  5. Tammy Moseley says:

    Gracia, I sure have enjoyed all your pictures and descriptions of this most beautiful city Rome. Having been there several years ago it brings back so many wonderful memories of this Eternal City! We only had 3 days there on our trip. Like any large city you really need a week (or more!). Thank you so much for sharing!

    • graciamc says:

      Hi Tammy, So glad you are enjoying the pictures. We were in Rome years ago for about 3 days too so it was a treat to have more time in such an amazing city.

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