If You Love Rome, This May Be the Best Museum You’ve Never Visited

I was drawn to the Museo di Roma at Palazzo Braschi for the view. The museum sits at the southwest end of Piazza Navona and has an incredible view of the famous square from its second and third floors.

I’ve always meant to visit the Museo di Roma. But in a city like Rome, where so many more sites and monuments are vying for attention, it was easy to put off a visit until “next time.”

An exhibit on Canaletto finally drew me in. The painter known for his Venetian cityscapes (vedute) also painted several paintings during his short stay in Rome.

But the Canaletto exhibit was just the icing on the cake.

On display at the Museo di Roma are numerous “vedute” of Rome dating from the 17th century on. There are works depicting Piazza Navona before many of its buildings were demolished for the construction of Borromini’s Sant’Agnese in Agone, as well as landscape paintings from multiple recognizable sites around the city, from the banks of the Tiber to Piazza di Spagna to the countryside.

The best part of the museum, however, were the installations about the various demolitions that happened around Rome in the early 20th century. Seeing maps, paintings, photographs, and film footage of the Spina dei Borghi (the area destroyed to make way for the Via della Conciliazione leading to Saint Peter’s) and the Via dei Fori Imperiali were both fascinating and disheartening. It’s incredible to think of how much was lost during these renovation projects.

If you have time for another museum on your Rome itinerary, I highly recommendable Museo di Roma at Palazzo Braschi. Come for the views, stay for the deep dive into Rome’s municipal history.

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