- Have you visited the major art galleries in Rome already and are looking for something new?
- Does an interesting setting, such as a historic dwelling, sound like a fun way to get more bang for your art-viewing buck?
- Does the idea of crowds, long lines, and being herded like cattle just to see some super-popular work of art make you want to run the other way?
If you can answer “Yes” to any of the above, read on! We have some ideas for viewing art in Rome that are off the mainstream radar, some of them even free.
Would you like to create a custom tour of Rome with a private guide? Are you interested in areas hard to get to on foot, or outside of Rome, for which you need a car and driver? Please get in touch! DriverInRome is here and ready to help with any sort of day trip or private tour you have in mind.
“Lesser Known” Does Not Mean “Lesser Wow!”
Every year gobs of tourists flock to the Vatican museums and art galleries such as Rome’s Villa Borghese. The wealth of masterpieces in these popular exhibits is wonderful, without a doubt. The downside of all this wonderfulness is that tickets are pricey and crowds in high season are crazy.
If your visit of The Eternal City includes the famous tourist sites such as the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, and Trevi fountain, you might want to consider these lesser-known cultural opportunities as a complementary experience. Some lesser-known art can be a nice way to balance out the big-time archeology. Even the big-time art.
Now, let’s be clear that “lesser-known” does not mean “lesser wow!” These unique spaces to view art in Rome cover a variety of architectural contexts and range of artistic eras and forms, and include many world-class artists and works of art.
Unique Places to View Art in Rome
Bernini’s Sculpture of the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa
The home of Bernini’s sculptural masterpiece is the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria (Saint Mary of the Victory), built in the early 1600’s, and one of most important examples of Baroque architecture in Rome.
The stunning sculpture in pure white marble depicts Saint Teresa of Avila’s vision of an angel piercing her heart with a golden arrow, causing the convergence of joy and pain — the ecstasy — that Bernini’s capolavoro so vividly portrays.
To learn more about the sculpture of the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa
Caravaggio’s Painting of the Madonna of Loreto
In typical Caravaggio fashion, the holy figures in his painting of the Madonna of Loreto (sometimes called Madonna of the Pilgrims) are presented as common folk in everyday settings. The painting, in which Mary is barefoot like the pilgrims who have come in adoration, was subject to ridicule when it was unveiled (as were pretty much all of Caravaggio’s works at that time).
Rather than glorify the divine, Caravaggio chose to communicate that it can be encountered in any common or earthly setting, by any common man.
The painting is located in the basilica of Sant’Agostino (Saint Augustine) in Campo Marzio, near Piazza Navona.
For a deeper understanding of Caravaggio and the painting
Doria Pamphilj Gallery
This art gallery, featuring masterpieces from the private collection of the Doria Pamphilj family, is housed in the sumptuous surroundings of the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, a true palace reflecting 500 years of history and the influence of some the greatest noble families in Italy.
In addition to works by Caravaggio, Titian, Raphael, Carracci and Bernini, you will also find Flemish Masters from the Baroque era, French painter Claude Lorrain, and Diego Velázquez, one of the most important painters of the Spanish Golden Age.
Opening hours and ticket info
Galleria Siarra is truly a unique space for viewing art in Rome, not only due to its location but also because of the painting technique used. The galleria is a courtyard, a pedestrian thoroughfare between buildings, topped by a glass and metal dome.
The decorations of the space were painted in the late 19th Century, shortly after the unification of Italy, using the encaustic method of pigments mixed with wax. The celebration of women is the dominant theme.
Free public access during business hours.
Palazzo Altemps/Museo Nazionale Romano
Along the lines of the Doria Pamhilj gallery, Palazzo Altemps is also an exquisite historic dwelling housing the impressive art collection, this one being all sculptural. The exhibits of the Museo Nazionale Romano (National Roman Museum) encompass masterpieces and archeological relics of the ancient world as well as more modern works from prestigious collections, which have been harmoniously integrated into the luxurious setting of the palace.
General info and tickets
Via Marghutta has been an artistic hub in Rome since the post-WWII era. Once a bohemian melting pot of painters, sculptors, poets, musicians, and artisans, today the street is a sophisticated center of contemporary art galleries, upscale antique shops and sophisticated restaurants. If you’ve seen the movie “Roman Holiday” you will be familiar with Via Marghutta; Gregory Peck’s character lived there.
Every year Via Marghutta is transformed into an open-air art gallery during the “100 Pittori” (100 Painters) event.
For more detailed history of Via Marghutta
For a look at the 2021 edition of 100 Pittori (already passed)