The Palazzo Braschi stands majestically to one end of the oval Piazza Navona, one of the most beautiful outdoor spaces in all of Rome. The Piazza is known as a Baroque masterpiece, with it’s central Fountain of the Four Rivers crafted by Bernini in 1651. The Palazzo is an extension of the magnificence space outside its doors; visitors are first greeted by one of the most impressive staircases in all of Italy, built between 1790 and 1793. The Palazzo was the last palace of this size and scale to be built in the Eternal City.
Today, the Palazzo Braschi no longer houses a rich Roman family but rather the Museum of Rome, which is open to the public for 8 Euros (for students under 26, for regular admission I think it is 10 Euros). On the occasion of the exhibit ‘Barocco a Roma”, the Baroque in Rome, the Museum is hosting a special exhibition about Rome during the Baroque period. As I had already visited the main Baroque in Rome exhibition at the Palazzo Cipolla, I was excited to see the museum’s display of artwork related to this time period. The theme of the Baroque display at the Palazzo Braschi was “celebrations and images from parties, festivals, and carnivals during the Baroque period.”
Baroque art is known for being dramatic, expressive, and elaborate and is known to have begun in the early 1600’s in Rome and spread throughout Europe from there. The first piece of “art” the museum used to introduce this time period was a map of Rome in the 1600’s. I was shocked to see how many famous landmarks are still standing in the exact same place and how closely the city plan still resembles the way it looks today, more than 400 years later. Then, many of the art featuring celebrations during the Baroque time period also featured some of the most famous tourist destinations of today, such as the Spanish Steps, before there were steps and a tree lined path led to the church on the hill. The Piazza Navona made several appearances featuring everything from naval battles when they would flood the square to jousting tournaments.
Fireworks at the Castel Sant’ Angelo were also featured in several of the paintings. I was just so amazed at how little things have changed in Rome in regards to architecture and celebrations over the past 400 years. The permanent collection of the Museum of Rome focused on the everyday life of Romans from going out into the countryside for a hunt to bargaining at the market in the morning. The commentary provided in Italian and English really helped to picture everyday life in Rome throughout the centuries. Another plus of the museum? It was not at all crowded around 5pm. The museum stays open until 7pm. I would highly suggest a visit to learn more about the history of Rome via art.