hello, pauline! how are you doing? can you help me? im going to rome but dont even know where to start my visit. what are some places you'd recommend? or art you'd say is essential for me to see there?
I can, absolutely! Oh, Rome has some of my favourite places and sculptures, and if you’re in the center of the city, just walking around among white and orange walls is a travel to the past.
I would recommend you to visit the Castel Sant’Angelo if you like all things medieval —full of small, dark rooms, tapestries, heavy stones and slit windows, and scattered with art works.
Of course plan a day to spend in the Vatican, to visit the Vatican museums (traveling through rooms full of sculptures, paintings, old books, strange inventions, ornate globes), the Sistine Chapel (a bit of a let-down, actually—it’s quite small, dark, claustrophobic—but so full of soul), and of course St Peter’s Basilica, where you will be able to see one of the most beautiful Renaissance sculpture, la Pietà.
The Colosseum and the Roman Forum are absolute wonders, and walking in the Roman Forum, particularly, struck me as exceptional. There are a lot of explanations about the ruins, monuments, and sculptures found there, which makes everything all the more interesting. You’ll be able to walk in the House of the Vestals (Atrium Vestae) there.
I recommend walking around the city center as well—a labyrinth of cobble-stoned streets and scattered wonders—obelisks, statues. The Pantheon (so beautiful, so solemn, with a well of light in the center) is not far from there. Every morning, there’s a delightful market in Campo dei Fiori, with italian food and crafts. Not far from there, you can also find the wonderfulTrevi Fountain, and the delightful Piazza delle Coppele. While you’re there, by the way, make yourself a favour and buy ice cream at Grom.
If you’re not tired of basilicas and churches yet (I never am), I’d recommend Santa Maria in Trastevere (one of the oldest church in the city, and so magnificently ornate) and Santa Maria Sopra Minerva (the ceiling is to die for).
Now for my absolute favourites—I would go there every time I went to Rome—, you absolutely have to go to the Villa Borghese and its gardens. The museum is filled with the most beautiful sculptures I have ever seen, among which you will find three Berninis : The Rapt of Proserpina, Apollo and Daphné, and Aeneas, Anchises, Ascanius. If you go up to the paintings, you’ll find a few Caravaggio, notably (one of my favourite) the Boy With a Basket Fruit; and Raphael’s Young Woman with a Unicorn. The building itself is beautiful: marbles floors, ornate walls, high windows, pillars. The gardens around are full of corners, fountains, alternating regular French hedges and English-inspired parks, ponds, pavilions.
My other favourite is less known, but it blew my mind and it is one of the most original artwork I’ve seen: the Capuchin Crypt. Situated under the Capuchin Order’s Museum (which is interesting because it adds context and builds up suspense before you get to the crypt itself), it comprises several tiny chapels decorated with… the bones of the deceased Capuchin Friars themselves. As explained there, it is a tribute and reminder of our own mortality, of the fleetingness of life, as well as an aesthetic statement. It’s very gripping: chilling, and beautiful, solemn, poetic.
There! I hope you find the time to see some of those, have fun!