Split between two exquisite palazzi, the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica has hundreds of enthralling paintings and a few genuine masterpieces, yet it barely sees a soul from one day to the next. You might easily have a room full of Sienese Masters or a couple of Filippo Lippis to yourself. On the flip side, you might equally get Caravaggio’s spine-tinglingly ruthless decapitation of Holofernes – not a painting to see on your own.
Perhaps even more rewarding than the paintings are the buildings themselves. Palazzo Barberini had Bernini, Borromini and Maderno as its designers. Its epic centerpiece is the swirling, angel-filled fresco by Pietro da Cortona in the main salon. It’s as masterfully outrageous as anything the notoriously over-the-top Baroque era could muster.
On the other side of the Tiber, Palazzo Corsini must be the most shamefully ignored beauty in Rome. The palace, standing next to the old Botanical Gardens, has works by Rubens, Van Dyck, and Giordano, all waiting patiently while the ghosts of the Corsini family drift through the quiet corridors.
Address Palazzo Barberini, Via delle Quattro Fontane 13. Palazzo Corsini, Via della Lungara 10;
Getting There Palazzo Barberini is a few steps from the Barberini metro stop, on Line B, while Palazzo Corsini is in northern Trastevere, a good walk from the San Pietro metro stop. It’s easier to take the 23, 28 or 65 bus there.