Rome is among the oldest cities in the world. This fact is made obvious by its extensive history and rich culture. Because of all this history and culture, Rome is also home to tons of really cool museums, 210 in total. Even though the museums are free every first Sunday of the month, it’s simply impossible to see them all in just a semester, so I thought I’d share my favorites with you.
- Galleria Borghese
The beautiful Villa Borghese is home to this little gallery of art. It’s only two floors, but it houses a lot of really cool work, including both sculptures and paintings. The collection used to be that of Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the nephew of Pope Paul V. Some of the most notable works in the museum include those of Bernini and Caravaggio. It’s a really pretty building by the Borghese gardens, so it’s cool to see even if you don’t go inside. I really liked the art inside and definitely recommend going in.
Note: you have to buy tickets ahead of time and choose a time slot to prevent overcrowding of the museum.
- Museo di Roma
I didn’t know this museum existed until I went last week. It’s a small and unassuming building in a tiny piazza but it’s so worth the trip. The museum was founded during the fascist regime to document the local history of the city of Rome. I really liked it because the works featured places that I walk by every day. They had models of Piazza del Popolo and beautiful paintings of the cityscape. I felt like I really knew Rome because I recognized all the places in this museum. It also gave me some ideas of places to go that I hadn’t heard of before. If you’re staying in Rome for a period of time or if you’re really interested in the local, more modern history, I highly recommend this small and quick museum.
- The MACRO (Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome)
The MACRO is pretty small and it’s all about the exhibition. I went when they had the Pink Floyd exhibit and it was absolutely amazing. I knew pretty much nothing about Pink Floyd before going into the exhibit, but I still had an amazing time. The exhibit came with an audio guide that progresses as you walked through, which made the experience feel kind of interactive. Past exhibits include a collection of Rome’s street art and performance art. This museum is also pretty cool because it’s more Italian-centered, rather than catering to tourists like the bigger museums, and the building itself is really remarkable. The downside to that is that you need go check the exhibitions before you go to make sure there is some English involved.
- Capitoline Museums
The Capitoline Museums are some of the oldest in the world, founded in 1471 when a pope donated his personal collection to the people of Rome. The collection and exhibitions here are also focused on the city of Rome. This place is not highly advertised, so the lines won’t be crazy. The museums are located on Capitoline Hill and the building itself is quite beautiful. Even if you don’t go in, this museum has great views of the Colosseum and Roman Forum.
Pompeii isn’t a museum and it’s not in Rome but it’s absolutely incredible. My friends and I took a bus down for the day to see the ruins and it was such a cool experience. I have very little knowledge of any kind of history and I still had an amazing time there. I recommend getting the audio guide at the ruins if you choose to go, as it’s very informative and super cool to learn about the lives of the people that lived in the ancient city. I wasn’t expecting much but the ruins are huge and really interesting. If you go on a nice day, the views are amazing as well. You can also go on a hike up Mount Vesuvius, which I didn’t have time to do, but my friends really enjoyed.
If you’re able to visit Rome, these are some of the smaller, less crowded museums. Rome has dozens of museums housing priceless works of art. While Rome is beautiful and has more to offer than museums, you must visit a couple to have the full experience of the Roman culture.