Private Tour of Rome's Borghese Gallery and Gardens
Enjoy a truly intimate experience of some of the greatest artists in the world on this very special privately guided tour of the Borghese Gallery – one of the most beautiful and opulent museums in the world. On your private tour you will:
- Wonder at the opulence and beauty of the spectacular Borghese Gallery with the personalized attention of a private guide and tickets included.
- Learn about Rome’s greatest Baroque artist, sculptor and architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini as you admire the early masterpieces that brought him fame and fortune.
- Hear tales of Cardinal Scipione Borghese – the man behind the museum and how he acquired some of his art (in occasionally underhand ways!)
- Marvel at works by Canova, Raphael, Titian and more.
- Linger in the room dedicated to Caravaggio and admire the largest collection of Caravaggio’s paintings anywhere in the world.
- After a short break with time to browse the gift shop, enjoy a leisurely stroll through the magnificent Borghese gardens and park – known as the green heart of Rome:
- See Piazza di Siena, home to equestrian eventing and fashion shows, the reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe, the charming lake adorned with the Temple of Asclepius, and hundreds of statues and busts of various artistic, political and intellectual luminaries as your guide tells you the stories behind it all.
- End the tour on the Pincio Terrace with a breathtaking view over Piazza del Popolo and the City of Rome.
Formerly the private villa of Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew to Pope Paul V, who commissioned it in 1609, it remained the private property of the Borghese family until the Italian state purchased it at the beginning of the twentieth century in 1902, insisting that it should be open to the public.
Cardinal Scipione (1577-1633) was a great patron of the arts. A magpie-like collector of all that glittered, he also had a keen eye for up-and-coming talent. He spotted the young Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) in his father, Pietro Bernini’s workshop, and commissioned his first marble sculptures – now world famed for their exceptional quality: Aeneus Escaping Troy – or the Three Stages of Man, the mesmerising Rape of Persephone, the astonishing Apollo and Daphne, and Bernini's very different version of the young David taking on Goliath. These statues, sculpted when Bernini was in his early twenties, launched him into the stratosphere of fame, and he became to the Baroque what Michelangelo had been to the Renaissance.
Scipione commissioned the architect Flamino Ponzio to design a grand villa in 1609. It was to be a party villa for visiting diplomats, and filled like Aladdin’s Cave, with treasures from Antiquity (you’ll see amazing 3rd-century mosaics of Gladiatorial combat on the floor in the grand entrance, and colossal 2nd-century busts of goddesses and Roman emperors as you enter) as well as the best art and sculpture of the day. Successive Borghese family members have only added to the lavishness over the centuries – not least Napoleon Bonaparte’s sister Paulina Borghese, who is sculpted as the alluring Venus Victrix by Canova. The villa is covered in floor-to-ceiling frescoes, and all twenty rooms are filled with priceless antiquities and world-famous art by some of the greatest maestros of all time - Bernini, Titian, Raphael, Domenichino, Perugino, Correggio... and not to mention an entire room dedicated to Caravaggio. Your guide will regale you with the political stories behind the art, the coded messages, the lives and secrets of the artists and the conquests and scandals of the Borghese family too.
After the tour of the gallery, a strictly timed two-hour visit, you will have a short break to refresh or browse the gift shop, before setting off to explore the sumptuous gardens and park, dotted with umbrella pine trees, picturesque fountains and statues of famous literary, political and artistic figures through the ages. Your guide will lead you to the Pincio Terrace, next to the Villa Medici (a great spot for a refreshing aperitif cocktail or coffee) and where the tour ends overlooking the beautiful Piazza del Popolo, with a panoramic view over the Eternal City.