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The Borghese Gallery And Museum Shouldn’t Be Missed

The Borghese Gallery and Museum needs to be included on your next visit to Rome because it contains an unrivaled collection of art in a city full of treasures.

borghese gallery and museum - Caravaggio's Saint Jerome

Caravaggio – Saint Jerome

The Borghese Gallery (Galleria Borghese) is an art gallery in the Villa Borghese Gardens in Rome. The building was built using sketches by Scipione Borghese, who used it as a country villa and who later became a Cardinal and the nephew of Pope Paul V.

Scipione Borghese was an early patron of GianLorenzo Bernini and he was an avid collector of paintings by Caravaggio. The collection of Caravaggio paintings in this museum include: Boy with a Basket of Fruit, St Jerome Writing, Sick Bacchus and a few others. Other well represented artists in this museum include: Titian, Raphael and Rubens.

Who Was The Borghese Family?

The House of Borghese originated in Siena and moved to Rome in 1541, where the powerful family grew in wealth and power to include nobility, Cardinals and Pope Paul V. The Borgheses were one of the driving forces behind The black nobility (a.k.a. black aristocracy) who were aristocratic families who sided with the Pope Pius IX after the House of Savoy led army entered Rome in 1870, overthrew the Pope, and took over the Quirinal Palace, the current residence of the President of Italy.

borghese gallery and museum - Caravaggio - The Sick Bacchus

Caravaggio – The Sick Bacchus

The Borghese Family continued its expansion and eventually became one of the largest landowners in the area around Rome. In addition to the Pope, the family tree included ties to Spain, France and Fascist Italy leading up to World War II. One notable family member in particular, Junio Valerio Borghese, nicknamed The Black Prince, was a Navy commander during the reign of Benito Mussolini and the Fascists. He was a prominent hard-line Fascist politician and in 1970 he took part in the planning of an aborted neo-fascist coup and he escaped to Spain where he spent the remaining years of his life.

Which Is The Borghese Gallery Official Website?

This might seem like an odd question, but if you search for Borghese Gallery, you will find a lot of results that all seem to be official sites and sell real tickets to the museum. In reality, this is a bit of a problem in Rome because unscrupulous tour operators like to pretend like theirs are the official tickets and they charge a considerable markup.

The official site for the Borghese Gallery is part of the BeniCulturali site from the Italian Minister of Culture (Ministero della Cultura), and it can be found here and also here. From there you can reach the site used to buy official tickets, called Gebart, which can also be used to purchase official tickets for a number of Museums in Rome. To add complexity to an already convoluted (i.e. Italian) process, when you try to buy tickets, you will jump to another site, TOSC, which is: 

“involved in the management of computer generated tickets and exhibition and museum booking services for organized groups and the general public.”

borghese gallery and museum - Bernini's the Rape of Proserpina

Cerberus from the Rape of Proserpina by Bernini

How Much Are The Borghese Gallery And Museum Tickets?

I recommend buying the tickets early and online using the links that I detailed above. This is a popular site to visit and you don’t want to leave it to chance. Once you navigate to the ticket purchasing page you will see the following options when there is availability:

  • Full Price Tickets: €15.00
  • EU Citizens aged 18-25: €4.00
  • Children under 18 (and others entitled): €2.00

There are also guided tours available in Italian and English, and the prices are:

  • Full Price Tickets + Guided Tour: €23.00
  • EU Citizens aged 18-25  + Guided Tour: €12.00
  • Children under 18 (and others entitled)  + Guided Tour: €10.00

The presale purchase involves the application of a service fee of € 2.00 per ticket, and don’t forget that while the entrance is free on the first Sunday of every month, you will still need to register for tickets because the number of visitors is strictly controlled. 

borghese gallery and museum - Canova’s Pauline Borghese

Canova’s “Pauline Borghese“

Is The Borghese Gallery Worth Seeing?

For me, the answer to this question is a definite “YES”. I prefer sculptures and Caravaggio is probably my favorite painter, so this museum has everything I’m looking for. The staff is very professional and the tour guides are passionate and knowledgeable. We went on two different occasions and had two different tour guides and our experiences were consistently positive.

Borghese Gallery Tours

I mentioned above that our experiences with the guided tours at the Borghese gallery were very positive on two different occasions. The guides we had weren’t native English speakers but they were clear, understandable and informed. They brought the artwork to life in a way that a self-guided experience or a recorded tour simply can’t match.

The tour lasted around 1.5 hours in the 2 hours that were allotted. The expectation was that once the tour completed, you still had some time to revisit some of the works to which you were most drawn. 

Another unexpected benefit that the guided tour provided to someone like me who is not very well versed in art was a focus on which works were the most important and deserving of attention. There are paintings, sculptures and mosaics from floor to ceiling in every room and it would have been easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things to look at. I appreciate it when you can skip by the things that might be less important to the general audience (i.e. not an art major or historian).

Borghese Gallery and Museum - Ceiling

Dog’s Head On An Angel

How Can I Reach The Borghese Gallery And Museum?

While reaching Villa Borghese Gardens is fairly simple, finding the Museum is a little less so given the immense size of the Gardens. On our first visit to the Gardens we walked around for an hour and never saw the museums, so my advice is to do a little planning.
From whatever is your starting point, if you are traveling by bus, make your way to Largo Chigi. This is a main transfer point on the ATAC lines and from there you have a couple options. You can take either the #53#63 or the #83 bus to the Pinciana/Museo Borghese stop, and you are right at the museum. There are other options, but they depend on from where you are starting.

More Beauty In Rome

If you enjoyed this post about the Borghese Gallery and Museum and you are passionate about art in general or Bernini and Caravaggio in particular, you should find these posts interesting:

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