Quattro museo and quattro churches in Rome

It turned out that our last day in Rome has been a feast of museums. We started with the closest – the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme Roma which has Roman mosaics, frescos, sculptures and coins. On the top floor (and boy do you notice climbing those stairs) there is a room dedicated to some wall paintings of a garden. Originally these paintings surrounded the actual garden enclosing it in a delightful wrapping! In the museum the paintings are arranged over fours walls of a room and the blues and greens make you feel as if you are in some exotic hothouse.

We then moved on to the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica in the Barberini Palace which had some nice stuff including three Caravaggios, two El Grecos and a portrait by Raphael. The sun was beautifully hot so after admiring the ceiling fresco of the last huge room I escaped to soak up some sun by the fountain.

On the way to the fourth museum we spotted the Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Venezia so we popped in there to have a look. It’s a nice little museum and had a special Caravaggio exhibition on at the moment that we didn’t have time to go in and see.

Last by by no means least we went to the Museo Nazionale Romano di Palazzo Altemps. The collection is housed in a lovely Renaissance Palace which has an atmospheric courtyard with a fountain and statues dotted about. They are digging up the left of the courtyard to reveal Medieval remains of buildings that once stood on the spot. The collection itself is remarkably odd – it’s mostly ancient statues that have been fixed up or had the wrong heads stuck on the wrong body. It was a gentle end to a busy day and we stood on the balcony underneath some lovely fescos and breathed in the scent of orange blossom.

Of course a day in Rome wouldn’t be complete with a visit to a church or two and as we’d done four museums it seemed only fair to visit four churches. Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri is a converted Roman baths and the designs for it were done by Michelangelo. Sadly only his plan for the vaulted ceilings were used. Chiesa di San Luigi dei francesi houses three Caravaggios in St Matthew’s Chapel but we had to fight through the crowds to see them. Basilica di Sant’Agostino in Campo Marzio has the Madonna of the Pilgrims by Caravaggio which is really splendid and a Rapheal fresco on one of the pillar. Chiesa di Sant’Agnese in Agone is a hugh Baroque construction and was designed by Borromini. It overlooks the Piazza Navona and a fountain designed by rival architect Bernini. The Plazza at seven was full of artists, street musicians and entertainers. Tourists sit out on tiny tables with glasses of wine and drink in the atmosphere. Handsome policemen in blue uniforms stand about but it doesn’t stop the men selling their somewhat suspicious handbags and sunglasses from the pavement to anyone who has a few Euros burning a hole in their pocket.

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