On one of my last evenings in Rome, I knew I wasn’t able to leave the city without seeing Bernini’s beautiful works at Galleria Borghese.
To get there, you walk through beautiful the Villa Borghese Gardens. The walking paths are lined with enormous trees, quaint benches, and the occasional statue.
The gallery itself is housed in what used to be a elegant villa, in the middle of the gardens. You enter through the basement floor, where ticketing, bag and coat check, and the gallery shop is located.
Once you ascend the stairs to the upper levels, you’ll probably feel as I did: as though I had stepped into a older time, in which I was at a grand house for a party among nobility.
Once I was up the stairs to the second level, my breath was–no joke–taken from me as I saw with my own eyes Bernini’s The Rape of Proserpine (Proserpina). This piece has been one of my favorites for many years, as it is truly a masterpiece.
Walking around it and appreciating every angle, I felt myself constantly in awe that this was marble. MARBLE. He created this out of ROCK. It was more than enough to make me cry.
I probably spent a full 30-45 minutes just marveling.
Apollo and Daphne by Bernini was in a continuing room and was another that I’ve studied many times. Not only is it incredible to see the perfect attention to detail, but also the story that is apparent as Daphne bursts into a tree.
"Destroy the beauty that has injured me, or change the body that destroys my life.
…Since you cannot be my bride, you must be my tree! Laurel, with you my hair will be wreathed, with you my lyre, with you my quiver. You will go with the Roman generals when joyful voices acclaim their triumph, and the Capitol witnesses their long processions. You will stand outside Augustus's doorposts, a faithful guardian, and keep watch over the crown of oak between them. And just as my head with its uncropped hair is always young, so you also will wear the beauty of undying leaves."
In the next room, you’ll find David by Bernini. Oh, David. How artists through the centuries have loved depicting him during or after his battle with Goliath.
As I learned from Uncle Rick (a term of endearment my friends and I have given Rick Steves lol), Bernini’s David shows all that came from the Renaissance: we gained extraordinary beauty, but also realism.
Other notable pieces that I enjoyed were The Deposition by Raphael, Boy with a Basket of Fruit by Caravaggio, St John the Baptist by Caravaggio, Deposition by Peter Paul Rubens, Sacred and Profane Love by Titian, and Truth Unveiled by Time by Bernini.
The emotions that this gallery evoked within me makes it, my favorite gallery I’ve visited to date.