Churches and gallery on the last day in Rome

{ Rome, Italy - May 2011 }

The last day in Rome was spent with a whirlwind tour of the places that we had not been, but was in our list of the places to visit in Rome. We started the morning in Saint Peter's Basilica, followed by Campo de' Fiori. After having lunch at Campo de' Fiori, we made our way to a church that I was actually pretty reluctant to go. 

Chiesa di Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappucini

The reason for my reluctance? The crypt just under the church contains the bones of 4,000 Capuchin friars, arranged in elaborate fashion, decorating the various chapels. The crypt started in 1631 when thousands of bodies were exhumed and transferred to the crypt. Why would they want to do that - I am not sure. I expected it to be eerie and scary. However, it was actually okay. I did have any scary or eerie feelings. Various parts of the human skeletons decorated the ceiling and walls, and some full body skeletons were also displayed. No photography was allowed, but you can visit the official site for some photos. Would I go again? Well, probably not.

The church was near Piazza Barberini, a simple piazza with a couple of fountains by Bernini such as the Fontana del Tritone (Fountain of the Triton) below.

Santa Maria della Vittoria

From one church, we went to another church, and this is one that I wanted to go! Of course, it was the book and the movie Angels and Demons that first introduced me to the sculpture Ecstasy of Saint Teresa by Bernini. The sculpture depicts Saint Teresa's religious ecstasy in her encounter with the angel and was described in her autobiography as follows:
I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron's point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God. The pain is not bodily, but spiritual; though the body has its share in it. It is a caressing of love so sweet which now takes place between the soul and God, that I pray God of His goodness to make him experience it who may think that I am lying.
While the sculpture may have some critics due to the sensual way that Bernini interpreted the encounter, the photo that we took was not able to capture the powerful feeling that the masterpiece evoke. Furthermore, the curves and the folds that was all carved from a marble was pretty amazing in itself.

Villa Borghese

We then made our way to Villa Borghese, where the Galleria Borghese is situated. The gallery had so many amazing sculptures and art from one room to another, that it was pretty hard to imagine that they were all private collections and all of them were collected and owned by the Borghese family! There were many life-sized sculptures by Bernini as well as paintings by Caravaggio, Titian and Raphael. If only I could have one of the sculptures, I would keep starring at it in awe. Now, how do I get my hands on my favourite Apollo and Daphne?

The gallery is situated right at Villa Borghese with the amazing garden and park. We spent some time walking around the beautiful quiet park, right in the heart of Rome, on our last evening in Rome.

I initially thought that the four days that we planned for Rome would be too long, but now, having seen just a fraction of what Rome had to offer, I think a lifetime spent in Rome may not be enough to appreciate them all. A huge cosmopolitan city that I would love to hate if it has not been Rome, I have to admit that Rome managed to continously take my breath away.

::: Footnotes :::

{ Chiesa di Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappucini } Located at Via Vaneto, near Piazza Barberini. It is opened from 9am to noon, and 3pm to 6pm on Friday to Wednesdays. Admission is by donation. 

{ Santa Maria della Vittoria } The small church has one of Bernini's masterpiece - Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. It is at Via 20 Settembre, and is open from 9am to noon, and then 3.30pm to 6pm.

{ Galleria Borghese } The private gallery requires prebooking and you would not be able to buy tickets on the spot. Entrance fee is Euro 6, or just Euro 3.30 with Roma Pass. You can reserve tickets online on the website, but if you have Roma Pass, just email them at for a booking timeslot. Just get to the Villa at the stipulated time and pay for the ticket there. No photography is allowed in the gallery.

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