top of page


Updated: May 9, 2021

This isn't really a journal. It's from a letter to a friend giving some recommendations about what to see in Rome.

Here are some ideas. I’m obviously failing to mention the things on the regular tourist routes, even though they are magnificent – the Vatican museum, the Coliseum, the Roman remains, the Spanish steps, the Fontana di Trevi, etc. I’m just mentioning some things that you might miss.

The first, as I think I mentioned, is the Galleria Doria Pamphilj in the palazzo on the Via del Corso just north of the Piazza Venezia. The thing that makes it special to me is that the audio guide is done by none other than the Prince Doria Pamphilj himself, he having been born in England and speaking in a good posh English accent. He makes the whole thing come alive by telling stories about his childhood spent in the palace, aside from giving very learned comments about the wonderful exhibits, including the famous Velasquez portrait of his forebear Pope Innocent X. I wrote to him (“Dear Prince Jonathan”) to say how much we’d enjoyed our visit, including the audio guide, and he wrote back a very charming letter. All of which caused me to look him up on Google, to discover all sorts of strife and discord. It turns out that he was adopted, one of his parents being English, so he isn’t really descended from the Doria Pamphilis of way back. He is also gay, with a South American partner, and has children who are due to inherit the DP estate, much to the disquiet of his sister who doesn’t think that should happen. There was litigation, but I think our new best friend Jonathan won.

Moving on, and changing the subject a little, I should point out the splendid statue by Bernini of the Ecstasy of St Theresa, partly because it’s tricky to find even in the Michelin Green Guide to Rome. The statue is of the eponymous lady in a state of what looks to us like orgasm, even if to Bernini it was religious ecstasy: but who knows what was in Bernini's mind? It is in a side chapel, the Cornara Chapel, in the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, not far from the Palazzo Barberini at the bottom of the Via Veneto.

Then, for my money, it’s worth seeing the paintings of Caravaggio, some of his best ones being somewhat hidden in churches in Rome, painted by him before he murdered someone and had to flee the city, as one does in those circumstances. There are two in the Santa Maria del Popolo, located unsurprisingly in the Piazza del Popolo at the north end of the Via del Corso. One is of St Paul being converted, focusing curiously on his horse’s bottom. The other is of St Peter being crucified upside down. Others are to be found in the San Luigi dei Francesi, all relating to St Matthew, including the famous one where he is called when busy doing his tax-collecting. There are others in the Borghese gallery, but I haven’t been there recently and I think you have to book.

Finally, there are all the baroque churches. The one I like is the Gèsu Church, not far from the Pantheon. It has an amazing trompe l’oeil ceiling. Looking at the Green Guide, I see it gives three stars to a side chapel, the Chapel of St Ignatius Loyola. I don’t think I saw it, but it must be worth a look. This was one of the places we were kicked out of because it was closing at midday to allow the sacristan to have his four-hour lunch break.

As it’s near by I should also mention the Pantheon, although it must be on every tourist route. It must be about the only building in the world that has survived and is still in use nearly two thousand years after it was built, even though it wasn’t built as it says it was by Agrippa but a hundred years later by the Emperor Hadrian.

Mary wonders if there aren’t too many galleries and paintings in all the above and suggests adding the Domus Aurea (the Golden House) built by Nero and first discovered in the Renaissance. Actually, my Green Guide says it’s closed for repairs, but hey, you never know your luck, they may have been completed.

24 October 2017

8 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Post: Blog2 Post
bottom of page