By Marie-Lan Nguyen (2006) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Come here to get a real feel for ancient Roman art—the collection rivals even the Vatican's. The Roman National Museum, with a collection ranging from striking classical Roman paintings to marble bric-a-brac, has been organized in four locations: here, Palazzo Altemps, Crypta Balbi, and the Museo delle Terme di Diocleziano. The vast structure of the Palazzo Massimo holds the great ancient treasures of the archaeological collection and also the coin collection. Highlights include the Niobid, the famous bronze Boxer, and the Discobolus Lancelloti. Pride of place goes, however, to the great ancient frescoes on view, stunningly set up to "re-create" the look of the homes they once decorated. These include stuccos and wall paintings found in the area of the Villa della Farnesina (in Trastevere) and the legendary frescoes from Empress Livia's villa at Prima Porta, delightful depictions of a garden in bloom and an orchard alive with birds. Their colors are remarkably well preserved. These delicate decorations covered the walls of cool, sunken rooms in Livia's summer house outside the city. Admission includes entrance to all four national museums, good for three days.