Yesterday was a day of transitions for us here in Rome. Palma and Brad were packing to head back to the US - their shuttle was scheduled for 4 am on the 30th The apartment was being cleaned. Our friend Nancy was arriving in Rome at 8 am on the 30th to stay until we all leave on the 5th. Lots going on.
The cleaner was to arrive at 10 am so we set out at 9:30 so we weren't around when the place was being freshened up. Our first stop was the Palazzo Colonna where we toured the Galleria Colonna a private gallery within the palazzo. The Palazzo Colonna, a palace that has been in the Colonna family for over 20 generations, has quite an interesting history. This rise to glory started in the Middle Ages when the Colonna family was the most powerful feudal force in Rome. In 1424 the family managed to elect their own pope, which resulted in huge benefits and triggered the building of a huge new family compound, the Palazzo Colonna.
In the 1700s the building was rebuilt and the family had moved on from nominating popes to collecting art. Consequently there is now quite a collection of late Renaissance and Baroque paintings stored and displayed here. Six of the rooms are open to the public, and though the paintings are not labeled a key to them is available.
The first room contains a number of family portraits and the Temptation of St. Anthony. After this is the Great Hall with a gilded ceiling and a painting of Mary about the clobber the Devil who is trying to steal a baby. The third room, Hall of the Desks, is named after two superb ancient desks contained in it. The fourth room features Martin V, the Colonna member to become pope, and the fith Throne Room contains a chair turned to the wall for use by the pope should he choose to drop by. The last room is named after Maria Mancini, nice of Cardinal Mazarin who ran France for much of the late 1600’s.
From the Gallery you can also see into the private garden and the ruins of the Temple of Cerapis with 20m high marble columns. This area is not open to the public.
In the Piazzo Colonna on which the Palazzo Colonna is built, stands the 30m high Column of Marcus Aurelius, built in the time of Emperor Aurelius. Made of about 27 hollow 3.7m wide blocks the hollow column contains a spiral staircase leading to the top. The Intricate relief depicts the Danubian or Marcomannic wars of Marcus Aurelius, waged by him from 166 to his death.
One thing that fascinated us was a cannon ball preserved where it landed when the French fired it towards the palazzo from the Janiculum Hill in 1849. It came through the roof and lodged in the stair. The Colonnas left the stair unrepaired and the cannonball in place to remind visitors of the harm man can do to man and to art.
After leaving the gallery we headed off to another private collection - that of the Doria Pamphilj family. This is a hidden highlight that can often be overlooked by visitors to Rome. In the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj is the premier private collection of late-renaissance art.
The collection encompasses paintings, statues and furniture. Since the 16th century a number of Roman families (who were united over time by marriage to be known as the Doria Pamphilj) have been collecting these pieces. Like the Collonna family, the Doria Pamphilj family can boast a good number of popes and cardinals on the family tree.
The palazzo is still in private ownership and the works of art in the Galleria Doria Pamphilj are displayed in the 10 state rooms and galleries around the courtyard. The collection was only opened to the public in 1996 and all the paintings remain in the ownership of the Doria Pamphilj family.
The Galleria Doria Pamphilj collection is organised into divisions based on century. It is recommended you listen to the audio guide which has been narrated by one of the half-British Doria Pamphilj family members, who provides much detail about the works, but also about his personal experiences growing up in the palazzo.
Included in the displayed works are works by Caravaggio, Annibale Carracci, Guido Reni, Guercino, Jan Bruegel, Jusepe Ribera, Velázquez, Claude Lorrain, Gaspard Dughet, Titian, Raphael, Garofalo, Lorenzo Lotto, Pieter Bruegel, Correggio, Parmigianino.
Can you believe that this represents but 4 hours in Rome?
We stopped for lunch at a simple trattoria on the way back to the apartment. Napped. Shopped. Met up with Sandra for some wine. Went out for dinner. . . . a busy time!
This is the longest that we have ever spent on vacation in one spot and we are LOVING the freedom and familiarity it brings.