Tuesday, September 05, 2006

August 2006 - Rome, Italy - Borghese Gardens & Gallery

There are several museums located in the Borghese Gardens. Among the most famous are the:

Villa Giulia (Museum of Etruscan Art)

After wandering through the lush and expansive Borghese Gardens we came upon Villa Giulia. This was originally a summer home for popes. The mansion has been converted into a museum of Etruscan Art which contains some of the most famous pieces unearthed in Italy. The Etruscans were a very sophisticated and advanced society from the hill towns of central Italy that pre-dated the city of Rome which was founded in the 8th century B.C. by Romulus. Historians believe that the Etruscans brought ancient Greek architecture and polytheism to Rome. Archaeologists have discovered Estruscan pottery, art, tools, jewelry and tombs which show that they were an educated people with a variety of craftsman, farmers, doctors, overseas merchants and a nobility (a few of the 7 kings that ruled Rome before the formation of the Republic were Etruscans). The Etruscan art shows that they lived lives of leisure with a profound love for beauty, knowledge and romance. Below is the most famous piece of Etruscan art - a sarcaphogous depicting a couple lounging on their wedding day - a wonderful example of the Estruscans' belief in romantic love between husband and wife.

Villa Borghese

This Villa was originally built as a summer retreat for the Cardinal Borghese. The Cardinal was an avid art collector and a notorious man who used his power to force art collectors to sell him their most treasured pieces. He was able to amass one of the greatest collections of Baroque and ancient classical sculptures in the world. He designed Villa Borghese to honor classical art and showcase the Baroque art as surpassing the art of the ancient Greek and Roman times. The villa was later owned by Cardinal Scipione who converted it into a museum. As one of the first museums in the world created in Baroque Italy, it contains some of Bernini's greatest works including David, Daphne and Apollo, and The Rape of Persephone. Below is a view of the villa's gardens which contain ancient Greek and Roman statues.

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