Musei Capitolini & Piazza del Campidoglio

Or, Capitoline Museums and Capitoline Hill. The square and palazzi were redesigned by Michelangelo, and the museums inside are home to ancient Roman artifacts, sculptures dating back to Etruscan times, and a beautiful painting gallery. Around the back is a beautiful view over the Roman forum, and the Victor Emmanuel monument and the Teatro Marcello are just steps away.

My visit here began with 40 or so American tourists adorned with togas and open beer bottles ogling over the Roman Forum. Embarrassed, I headed into the museum, which was quiet and rather empty (especially considering the museum’s location).

I had a wonderful time wandering through the courtyards and palaces, past ancient sculptures and even Bernini’s “Medusa.”

The Capitoline Museums are also home to the original Etruscan statues depicting the boy with the thorn in his foot and the she-wolf, the two symbols of Rome. The Boy with Thorn and the Capitoline Wolf, as they are officially named, were a wonderful surprise to see – I didn’t know they were here! I love the tiny Romulus and Remus in the second sculpture.

The real wonder of the museum was the Palazzo dei Conservatori, the second building of the museum. Rome has a thing for housing museums in palaces, and I am always utterly shocked and amazed. If I’ll remember one feeling most vividly from my time in Italy, it’s the feeling of complete awe as my jaw drops to the floor over the beauty around me. The first time I experienced this was at the Montecassino Abbey in Cassino, Italy. Then, it was the Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio di Loyola, the Villa Borghese gallery, the Cattedrale di Monreale, and now the Palazzo dei Conservatori.

The first floor featured hundreds of beautiful statues and sculptures, and the top floor was a pinacoteca of religious works and a favorite by Caravaggio.

The cafe’s terrace was also a sight, with panoramic views of Rome and happy Italian families getting their pictures taken. Overall, this was a wonderful museum unlike any other in Rome. Definitely worth a visit!

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