There are many reasons for taking the trouble to queue and shuffle through the museum and to continue on to the Sistine Chapel. For although the droves of other people, some of whom have a scanty understanding of why they're there (I know, I asked them!), can make the visit pretty stressful, the sight of the Sistine Chapel and especially the work of Michelangelo is entirely worth it.
This palace contains a wonderful collection of paintings and sculpture, set in galleries of the most sumptuous rococo design. Parts of the building are still used by members of the original family and the entire collection has the strong sense of having been bought and assembled by a succession of discerning individuals. The "star" of this great show is undoubtedly the Velasquez portrait of Pope Innocent X.
Piazza del Collegio Romano, Rome.
Iam Italian, I read 6 pages of tips and, regarding Rome, I was surprised that nobody seems to have visited San Pietro in Vincoli, an otherwise unimportant church but one that contains the statue of Moses by Michelangelo. The first time I saw it I felt like I was in the presence of God and I am not a believer.
It is in Via Cavour, you can walk there from the Stazione Termini in 15 or 20 minutes, then on your left there are stairs leading to the church. I am sorry I cannot give better directions, maybe there are signs - anyway you can ask the tourist bureau.
Not to mention the amazing art galleries Villa Borghese is an oasis of quiet in the bustling city of Roma - a must see for all visitors. If you want to visit the galleries you need to pre-book online before your visit ... tickets sell out fast but they are reasonably priced.
It can be reached by climbing the Spanish Steps but for the less energetic a taxi is relatively inexpensive.
A palace with pictures crammed onto every inch of wallspace: founder of D-P family fortunes Innocent X (Velasquez' greatest portrait) has a room to himself while Caravaggio and Titian compete for attention elsewhere with Bernini and Raphael. Sumptuously decorated salons and a glittering mirrored gallery: space to wander and gaze without queueing or jostling crowds. Price of entrance (€8) includes excellent personal audioguide by Jonathan Pamphilj: art history interspersed with family anecdotes.
Piazza dei Collegio Romano no.2Tel: 066797323www.doriapamphilj.it
You always have to queue so get there one hour early and walk through all the rooms directly to the Sistine Chapel, ignore the rest or do another time; then you arrive ahead of the crowds able to glory in it without the noise and hub-bub. Many people take mirrors to look down into to save their necks.
One of the best views in Rome is from the Pincio, above Santa Maria del Popolo, which has two magnificent Caravaggios, including the Crucifixion of St Peter and Conversion of St Paul.
South west of the Villa Borghese, above Piazza del Popolo.
If you're shopping on the Corso or heading towards it after a hard morning's slog in the Forum and up the Campidoglio, there are wonderful enoteche, cafe-bars and restaurants tucked away on either side.
Vic's on Vicolo della Torretta offers fast, sustaining lunches (soups, salads and excellent-value wines); Gino in Vicolo Rosini serves spaghetti alla vongole and coniglio al vino bianco with such zing the local MPs are willing to queue; and neighbouring bars Vitti and Ciampini in Piazza Lorenzo in Lucina (an elegant, airy space) are wonderful for an al fresco drink even in winter - they thoughtfully provide outdoor heaters.
Afterwards, wander back up the Corso and across the grand expanse of Piazza del Popolo to Santa Maria del Popolo, its shadowy interior magicked into life by Pinturicchio, Raphael, Bernini and Caravaggio - and then up to the Villa Borghese and the Pincio for the classic, breathtaking view of domes and spires.
Vic's, Vicolo della Torretta 60; Gino in Vicolo Rosini 4, off Piazza del Parlamento (tiny and hard to find -you may need to ask for directions); Vitti and Ciampini, Piazza Lorenzo in Lucina 33 and 29
This is one of the last few remaining parts of the 3rd Century Baths of Diocletian. For many years this was Rome's Planetarium and is now a tiny but truly delightful Roman Sculpture Gallery. It will only take 20 minutes of your time and is breathtaking. Free admission but it's not always open.
Viale E. di Nicola (Near Termini Station at the top of the Via Nazionale - next door to Michelangelo's Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli.
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