From the countless treasures of the Vatican Museum to the intricate carvings that can be spotted on fountains, churches and palaces all over the city, there's no doubt that Rome is a wonderland for history buffs and art lovers. But with so much choice and so little time to explore, it can be hard to know what to prioritise - so take it from us, the Galleria Borghese should make the list.
An art museum that places its emphasis truly on having the best exhibits, rather than the most, it boasts a mixture of paintings, mosaics and sculpture, predominantly created between the 15th and 18th centuries, as well as a selection of Ancient Roman items. With only a limited number of tickets to the Galleria Borghese available every day, it's one worth adding to your list early on.
The gallery was first established as a private collection by Cardinal Scipione Borghese in the 1600s. Part of the powerful Borghese family and a nephew of Pope Paul V, he was an art enthusiast with almost unlimited funds and had the villa that houses the gallery built as a space to showcase his own personal collection. As well as collecting artwork, he also funded a number of Italian artists, who in turn created pieces especially for him.
While the collection continued to grow over the years, by the 19th century the family had run into financial trouble and so sold hundreds of precious artefacts to the French state, items which are now housed in the Louvre's Borghese Collection. The remaining collection, as well as the building and its grounds, were sold to the Italian government in 1902.
With artists such as Antonello da Messina, Giovanni Bellini, Raffaello, Tiziano, Correggio and Caravaggio all represented here, the museum reads like a who's-who of Italian masters. Among its biggest draws is the work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, a 17th-century sculptor for whom Borghese was a sponsor; his most famous statue, "Apollo and Daphne", is a permanent exhibit here, and will, quite frankly, blow your mind.
There is also a collection of Ancient Roman antiquities, mostly dating from between the 1st and 3rd centuries AD; the slightly gory Mosaic of Gladiators, which was discovered on the Borghese family estate in 1834, is one of its central pieces.
The gallery is set in the Villa Borghese gardens, an attractive landscaped garden and tourist attraction in its own right. One of the largest public parks in Rome, it's probably not the most beautiful you'll ever go to, but makes for a good place to escape the noise of the city for a couple of hours. Take a walk through the trees, rent a bike or a boat, or take a picnic and spend the day here.
Throughout the Year
Entry to Galleria Borghese
Piazzale del Museo
Italy Borghese, 5.