If it weren’t for the occasional security guard, you could almost pretend this palazzo was yours alone.
The Galleria Doria Pamphilj is not a museum so much as it is an extremely nice apartment that’s almost always empty—which makes it the perfect antidote to Sistine Chapel burnout. The palazzo’s lineage is as tangled as a bowl of spaghetti, but basically it was the family seat for the rich, aristocratic, and extremely connected Doria Pamphilj family (Pope Innocent X was the patriarch of the brood). For 400 years, they amassed a phenomenal collection of paintings. You’ve got your Berninis, Caravaggios, and Guercinos. There’s the famous 1650 portrait of Innocent X by Velázquez and Titian’s Salome With the Head of John the Baptist from 1515.
The Galleria Degli Specchi (Gallery of Mirrors) seen here is the most stunning room in the whole place. Its resemblance to another famous hall of reflective surfaces is no accident—the family wanted a mini-Versailles. The prerecorded tour, narrated by Jonathan Doria Pamphilj, is worth it simply to hear his accent, which sounds like the Upper East Side by way of European finishing school. But take at least a few minutes off the headset to luxuriate in the blissfully serene surroundings—until some other wandering voyeur disturbs your peace (Piazza del Collegio Romano 2; 39-06-679-7323).
(1.) The vaulted ceiling The frescoes by Italian painter Aureliano Milani tell the story of Hercules.
They’re made of Venetian glass.
(3.) The bust at
the end of the hall
One of the great masterpieces in the gallery is this bust of Pope Innocent X, done by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1650.
(4.) Windows on the left
These overlook the courtyard in the center of the Galleria.
(5.) The sculptures
The statues lining the hall, in various stages of dismemberment, are all from ancient Rome. Many were restored in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (and are most likely quite different from the original artists’ intentions).
(6.) Tiny niche at
the end of the hall
In a small antechamber, next to a Bernini bust, is the famous portrait of Innocent X by Velázquez.
(7.) Windows on the right
These look out on the heavily trafficked Via del Corso.