Want to See Museums in Your Tour of Rome? Here Are 8 Musts!

Italy Travel Notes presents Cristiano Rubbi

Museo Nazionale Romano – Crypta Balbi (Roman National Museum – Crypta Balbi). Opened only a few years ago, this museum is particularly impressive because it provides a reconstruction of the general background as well as the daily life of the ancient Romans. It is divided in three sections and each contributes to the general picture with archaeological findings of all kinds and with plastic models of dwellings and other structures. The whole exhibition covers a span of time down to the Middle Ages.

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Musei Capitolini (Capitoline Museums). Suppose you are in Rome and you wish to visit a museum exhibiting some of the art treasures that you have always wanted to see, where would it be best for you to go? The answer is extremely simple. Take your pick. Rome has been called an open-air museum, with so many ancient buildings, monuments and archaeological remains to be admired everywhere around the city that you have an embarrassingly wide choice. However, if you are near the Capitoline Hill, we suggest you pay a visit to the Capitoline Museums. They are a complex of buildings hosting a fantastic collection of Egyptian, Greek and, above all, Roman sculptures, Roman artefacts, such as jewels and medals, as well as other works of art, including a bronze equestrian statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, which was restored in recent years.

Galleria Borghese (Borghese Gallery). The Borghese family was – and still is – one of Rome’s most prominent families. A member of the Family, that owned a huge park in Rome, had a palace built in the grounds of the park. This palace in time became what is now the Galleria Borghese, or Borghese Gallery. An elegant building in itself, the Galleria, however, is known for an excellent collection of ancient sculptures and of statues sculpted by Bernini (Apollo and Daphne) and Canova (Venus Victrix). The first floor houses numerous paintings by famous artists such as Caravaggio, Botticelli, Raphael, Titian and Rubens. Among their works we might mention Raphael’s Entombment of Christ, Caravaggio’s Boy with a Basket of Fruit and Titian’s Sacred and Profane Love.

Museo della Civilta Romana (Museum of the Roman Civilization). It is difficult to imagine a museum that may encompass the whole span of Roman civilization from its very start up to the 4th century (in other words, the complete story of the rise and decline of Rome). Yet, this is exactly the period of time covered by the exhibits at this museum. Of its three sections, the first one shows all the main stages of Roman history, the second one concentrates on all major themes of historical, social and religious interest and the third contains a model of the city of Rome in the 4th century A.D. Among other interesting exhibits you will find horizontal casts of the reliefs of Trajan’s Column.

Mercati di Traiano (Trajan’s Markets). This is one of the best archaeological sites in Rome and probably in the world. Its peculiarity lies in the fact that the whole area of the Markets has been continuously used from its origins right up to our days, but for completely different purposes. It began as a market with additional administrative and social uses, then became, in turn, the residence of noble families, a fortress, a convent, military barracks. This open air museum intends to provide a cross-section of an administrative and commercial area as well as a life-like reconstruction of ordinary living in the city of Rome in Imperial times.

Museo di Roma in Trastevere (Museum of Rome in Trastevere). This museum was opened 32 years ago to collect many paintings, prints and watercolors made between the latter half of the 18th century and the end of the following century. The overall picture of the city that you will gather from a visit to the museum will probably surprise you. The pre-industrial Rome was a picturesque, colorful city that had little to share with the bustling city you will notice all around you at present. The general arrangement of the museum is intended to reconstruct scenes of daily living in the Trastevere area of Rome. Among other exhibits, there are copies of some so-called “talking statues”. These statues were used by the Roman populace to pin leaflets containing biting lampoons and sharp criticism of Government officials and their administration.

Museo di Roma (Museum of Rome). Founded in 1930, the purpose of the museum was twofold: to link the increasingly more forward-looking city of Rome with its past and to ensure that ample evidence of its past be collected and handed down to posterity. You will find that the collection of works of art, ceramics, costumes, paintings, photographs, furniture and even trains and carriages illustrates the significant changes that have marked the life of the city from the Middle Ages right up to half-way through the 20th century. Obviously, the paintings and sketches will provide an ongoing description of the changes that affected the architectural structure of the city itself as well as the surrounding countryside.

Museo Barracco (Barracco Museum). When early in the 20th century Giovanni Barracco, a nobleman from Calabria, donated an ancient collection of sculptures to the city of Rome, it became necessary to find a location for it. The Museum was thus located in its current seat, a fine example of Renaissance architecture. The collection includes works originally made in various parts of the Mediterranean and neighbouring areas. Some statues, for instance are Assyrian, others are Phoenician and others are from Egypt. Obviously there are also a number of splendid Greek, Etruscan and Roman statues.

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