When artists talk about bucket-list places they’d like to visit, Rome is a location that’s frequently brought up. Whether you’re planning a trip there for a city break and a spot of opera under the stars (click here if you’d like information on early-bird tickets) or you’re a family of culture vultures and you’d like to take in the sites, here are the top attractions that you can’t afford to miss out on if you’re an art fanatic.
World-famous and the epitome of Renaissance artwork, no one who calls themselves an art lover can possibly visit Rome without stopping by the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. This magnificent structure is the official residence of the Pope, and its interior is decorated with some of the finest frescos that the world has ever known. With iconic painters such as Sandro Botticelli, Pinturicchio and Cosimo Roselli all adding their own unique style to this building, the skill and intricacy really must be seen to be believed – most notably, the ceiling and ‘The Last Judgement’ depictions by Michelangelo.
Unsurprisingly, generations of popes have also been hiding another priceless secret which is now open to the viewing public. The Vatican Museums are home to the impressive personal art collection of centuries of popes, and these are now visited by millions of people each year. With over 70,000 works including everything from classical sculptures and Renaissance masterpieces, this is a historical art exhibit like no other.
This next attraction has remained relatively undiscovered by tourists up until now, so if you visit early in the morning, you may be able to calmly peruse the art on offer without people milling around you. Palazzo Altemps is a 16th century palace located near the main square of Piazza Navona, and aside from its superb architecture which is a sight-seeing opportunity in its own right, this hidden gem houses an outstanding collection of classical sculptures. One of its most impressive pieces being a 3rd-century sarcophagus, which has been carved from a single block of stone. It depicts the Romans fighting the Ostrogoths, and is well worth a visit.
For those of you who crave the contemporary, you’ll feel right at how at the Maxxi gallery – the National Museum of Art from the 21st Century. The strange layout of this building alone will make you feel as though you’re walking through a piece of art, with its futuristic glass and steel lines. As Italy’s first national museum dedicated entirely to modern art, of course the architecture had to be just as stunning as its exhibits, covering a staggering 27,000 square metres. Its current claim to fame is that its permanent collections include the work of Neapolitan painter Francesco Clemente, and British sculptor Anish Kapoor.
I hope you found these highlights of the Roman art scene useful and you’re planning to visit them on your next trip.
What’s your favourite art gallery in Rome?