Quirinal and Villa Borghese District, Rome
The Palazzo Barberini was begun by Carlo Maderna and Borromini, and finished by Bernini in 1633. It is named for Pope Urban VIII (Maffeo Barberini), for whom the palace was built.
National Gallery of Modern Art
The National Gallery of Modern Art, founded in 1883, has the largest collection of works by Italian painters and sculptors of the 19th and 20th centuries. The 70 rooms of the massive building in which it is housed present a survey of Italian and foreign painting and sculpture since 1800, though some leading figures are missing and others are represented only by some minor works. Notable among the non-Italian artists are Degas, Cézanne, Mondrian and Van Gogh ("The Gardener"). Other items of particular interest are pictures by the Macchiaioli, a group of open-air painters from Tuscany comparable in style with the Impressionists, sculpture by Marino Marini and Giacomo Manzù and paintings by Giogio de Chirico. The gallery courtyard, displaying Antoine Bourdell's "Bowman" amongst the ivy and roses, is an attractive setting.
National Etruscan Museum
The Villa Giulia, built by Vignola for Pope Julius III in 1550-55, has housed the national collection of Etruscan art since 1889. The museum provides a comprehensive survey of the high standard of art and culture attained by this mysterious people, whose achievements the Romans deliberately obscured. Particularly notable are the finds from Etruscan cemeteries (cinerary urns, reconstruction of a tomb from Cerveteri), fine small sculpture and everyday utensils, statuary (in particular the Apollo of Veii) and the famous sarcophagus from Cerveteri (c. 530 B.C.) with the reclining figures of a husband and wife. The museum contains much else of interest - figures and figurines, grave goods and votive offerings, pottery, glass, gold and silver jewelry.
The Church of the Apostles in the Palazzo Colonna, originally dedicated to SS Philip and James, was probably founded by Pope Pelagius I (556-561) after the expulsion of the Goths from Rome. It was altered and renovated by later Popes and finally rebuilt by Francesco and Carlo Fontana (1702 onwards) as the last basilican church erected in Rome. Extensive restoration work was carried out in 1990. In the porch, which lies at an angle to the church, are examples of ancient and medieval art. Notable features of the interior (63m/207ft long) are the ceiling frescoes (Triumph of the Franciscan order), the tomb of Pope Clement XIV, a masterpiece by Canova (1787), and the tomb of Cardinal Pietro Riario (d. 1474).
The Spanish Steps were built in 1725 by Francesco de Sanctis and are today a popular hang out and tourist attraction. They vary in width as they ascend, and landings allow for resting and viewing the surroundings.
The Pincio Gardens, lying above the Piazza del Popolo below the grounds of the Villa Medici, were laid out at the beginning of the 19th century by the architect Giuseppe Valadier, in an area occupied by gardens belonging to old Roman families, including the Pinci after whom they are named. The paths in the gardens are lined with busts of Italian patriots. The views from the terraces, looking down on the Piazza del Popolo and across the whole of central Rome to St Peter's, are among the finest in the city, particularly at sunset.
In Piazza Barberini stands the Triton Fountain, a masterpiece created by Bernini in 1632-37 for Pope Urban VIII, a member of the Barberini family. Four dolphins support the Barberini coat of arms with its three bees, and on a large scallop shell sits a triton blowing a conch shell. Opposite, at the end of Via Veneto, is the Bee Fountain (1644), also created by Bernini for Urban VIII.
Sant'Andrea al Quirinale
Sant'Andrea al Quirinale, built by Bernini (1658-71) for Cardinal Camillo Pamphili as the church of a Jesuit seminary, is a jewel among the smaller churches of Rome, and forms a counterpoint with the nearby church of St Carlo alle Quatro Fontane, built by Bernini's great rival Borromini.Sant'Andrea, which was the court chapel of the Italian royal house from 1870 to 1946, is notable both for the consummate perfection of its design and the richness of its decoration. The circular ground plan of the Renaissance is here extended into the oval which was favored by Baroque architects, and this, opened out still further by eight lateral chapels, creates the sense of space and movement which appealed to the Baroque taste. The lively architectural pattern is matched by the lavish interior decoration with its pilasters and friezes, arches and recesses, coffered domes, cornices and windows, marble and stucco of many colors (old rose, white, gold). There are also fine frescoes and pictures, mainly of the Baroque period.
The huge palace of the Colonnas, one of Rome's leading noble families, which produced Pope Martin V (1417-31) and many other notable figures, was begun in the 15th century and completed after successive extensions in 1730. Within the precincts of the palace are the church of Santi Apostoli and the Galleria Colonna, built by Antonio del Grande and Girolamo Fontana in the 17th century. The gallery contains a famous collection of pictures originally founded by Cardinal Girolamo Colonna. This consists mainly of works by 17th and 18th century masters (including Veronese "Portrait of a Nobleman"; Tintoretto "Portrait of Onofrio Panvinios" and "Narcissus"; the "Portrait of Lucrezia Tomacelli Colonna" ascribed to Van Dyke and a ceiling painting by Sebastiano Ricci), together with pictures recording the achievements of the Colonna family: e.g. the victory won by Marcantonio Colonna as commander of the European fleet at the battle of Lepanto (1571) against the Turks.
Address: Via della Pilotta 17, Piazza SS Apostoli, I-00187 Rome, Italy
Opening hours: Sat: 9am-1pm; Closed: Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri
Entrance fee in EUR: Adult €7.00
Useful tips: Closed in August.
Transit: Bus: 56, 57, 60, 62, 64, 65, 70, 71, 75, 81, 85, 88, 90, 95, 170.
San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane
This masterpiece by Borromini, situated at the intersection of Via del Quirinale and Via delle Quattro Fontane, is only a short distance away from a masterpiece by Bernini. It is named after the four Baroque fountains at the intersection, with reclining figures representing respectively the Tiber, the River Aniene, Fidelity and Valour. Borromini began building this church, his first church in Rome, in 1638. Its total area is no greater than one of the piers at the crossing in St Peter's. The building shows a lively interplay of convex and concave lines with no attempt at regular form. "Harmony and divergence, symmetry and asymmetry, passion and serenity blend here into an inexhaustible play of forms" (Anton Henze). The facade of the church is strongly articulated. In the interior, an elongated oval, the richness of the decoration largely conceals the basic architectural structure. Borromini died in 1667, shortly before the church was completed.
Torre delle Milizie
The Torre delle Milizie is one of the oldest and strongest fortified towers in Italy and the largest in Rome. It is popularly believed that Augustus is buried under the tower and the Nero watched the burning of Rome from the top. The tower was built by Pope Gregory IX in the 13th century and probably takes its name from a nearby barracks of Byzantine militia. It belonged to a succession of different noble families and played a part in their endless feuds. In 1312 the German king Henry VII used it as his base during his successful attempt to secure his coronation as Emperor in spite of the hostility of the Roman nobility. The tower began sinking on one side soon after its erection, so that Rome, like Pisa, has its leaning tower. From the top of the tower there are magnificent views of central Rome and the ancient remains.
Church of the Capuchins
Consisting of a single central aisle, the church of the Capuchins was commissioned by Cardinal Antonio Barberini, a Capuchin friar, and built at the beginning of the 17th century by Antonio Casoni. The Cardinal's memorial in front of the high altar bears the Latin inscription "Hic iacet pulvis, cinis et nihil!" ("here lie dust, ashes and nothing"). The altarpieces contained in the church, Guido Reni's "Archangel Michael battles with Satan" (to the right in the first chapel) and Domenichino's "Francis and the Angel" (third chapel) are particularly impressive.The most unusual feature of the church is the marble cemetery in five chapels, where the skulls and bones of some 4,000 Capuchin friars have been arranged to form an intricate decoration.
Palazzo del Quirinale
In Roman times the Quirinal hill, which had legendary associations with Romulus, was occupied by a residential district of the city with numerous handsome mansions. In the 16th century Pope Gregory VIII selected this as the site of a Papal summer residence, which was begun in 1574 and later extended stage by stage (such famous architects as Fontana, Maderna and Bernini being involved in the work), until by the time of Pope Clement XII (1730-40) it formed a gigantic complex with long ranges of buildings surrounded by gardens. From 1870 to 1946 the Quirinal was the official residence of the king; it is now occupied by the President of Italy. Opposite stands the Palazzo della Consulta housing the Italian supreme court.
Via Veneto (Vittorio Veneto)
This handsome and fashionable street, which descends in two sweeping curves from the Porta Pinciana to the Piazza Barberini, has been a Mecca for tourists, ever since it was laid out at the beginning of this century. Its elegant fashion shops, lively cafes and exclusive hotels attract those who want to see and be seen. In the 50s the street was associated with the "dolce vita" of the Roman trend-setters as portrayed in Fellini's films. The macabre Capuchin cemetery is nearby.
Northeast of Santi Apostoli, in Piazza Pilotta, stands the Universitas Gregoriana or Pontifical University, founded in 1553; the present buildings date from 1930.