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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Galleria Doria Pamphilj - the Third Time

Courtyard - hard to believe this is off via del Corso
Galleria Doria Pamphilj (or Pamphili) is a stupendous gallery of  paintings and sculpture in the heart of Rome.  For many years it has been on the path of those seeking to see all Caravaggios in Rome and perhaps a few others, in a seen-better-days enormous palazzo sitting on Piazza Venezia.

Bagno di Diana
I always loved the gallery, where I first went in 1993 with Nancy DeConcillis and her intrepid group of international women "stuck" in Rome while their husbands worked (that was me!).  I had been back once about 10 years ago, but returned this year and found the Galleria and the Palazzo totally transformed.  Hard to believe John Cheever lived in an apartment here (and didn't like it, as I recall). I tried to go in through the entrance on the nondescript Piazza del Collegio Romano, which is more a parking lot than a piazza, but even the entrance had changed to the more accessible via del Corso.

You now enter through a lush courtyard and are taken immediately to a previously inaccessible, exquisite "bath" - "bagno di Diana" - built by Prince Filippo Andrea V for his British bride, Mary Talbot.

A family room (!)  Space for foosball--or soccer.

The next set of rooms are the "family" rooms.  These are the main objects of  restoration in the last decades.  Prince Jonathan Doria Pamphilj (the British-raised adopted son - he lucked out!) is your audio-guide voice for the family rooms, and he does a wonderful job of conveying the wealth and restoration while not seeming arrogant - no mean feat for a prince.  The audio guide is free with your ticket.

You must pay an additional Euro 4 for permission to photograph (in the middle of the upstairs galleries at a small bookshop, not when and where you buy your ticket).  Worth it, I think.


Most of the sculptures are in this odd room; turns out the sculptures were from the
Pamphilj gardens and moved inside for protection (from the proletariat after
unification?), but the roof of this room collapsed, damaging most of them.
This room now also has the 3 Caravaggios, seen here.

Family chapel
The art galleries themselves are, of course, what one comes for. With more than 500 paintings, among them works  by Caravaggio (3), Guido Reni, Annibale Carraci, Titian, and Raphael, and sculptures, including ones by Bernini.  The audio guide for the paintings is also excellent, allowing you to tune in when you want to and providing just the right amount of information.

Via del Corso, 305 (first block after Piazza Venezia), open 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. every day except Christmas, New Year's, and Easter.  In other words, it's often open when other galleries are not. At 11 Euros not cheap, but you get your money's worth.  There's now a nice cafe in the palazzo as well.

There is more information on the Web site:  There are concerts held here at times too.

Worth a visit the second time, or even a third, or fourth or more.


Fra Lippo Lippi's Annunciation

Donna Olimpia Aldobrandini - a sole heiress,
she combined the fortunes of the Doria, Pamphilj
and Aldobrandini, and bought a whole lot of art
in the 1600s.

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