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3 Rome Museums - Compare/Contrast please...

3 Rome Museums - Compare/Contrast please...

Feb 10th, 2014, 09:54 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 2,560
We just returned from a visit to Rome. I would recommend using a guide for the Vatican Museum and Gallery Borghese. Why?? There are thousands of items in the Vatican Museum; having someone who knows the lay of the land and how to navigate the museum is invaluable. You will also get much more information than an audio guide can provide. For the Borghese, as noted, you have 2 hours. That time could be squandered without a plan or understanding the layout. A guide will be most helpful.
cmeyer54 is offline  
Feb 10th, 2014, 11:46 AM
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I agree about the guide at the Borghese. I used an audio during my first visit but a guide on the second and third visits. The third time I bought back-to-back tickets as 2 hours just isn't enough time.
adrienne is offline  
Feb 10th, 2014, 02:20 PM
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Our experience in Rome included the Vatican, the Borghese, and the Palazzo Massimo. They are all very different.

The Vatican was wall to wall people with an overwhelming collection of art and artefacts and amazing rooms and ceilings and the Sistine and Basillica itself. Overwhelmong, few if any labels, a guide is needed if you want to get anything out of it.

The Borghese requires advance planning and punctuality. We did a fast qujick planning look at the first floor, then headed to the upper floor, and then when the bunch of other viewers got there we had the magnificent sculptures on the first floor to ourselves. Fantastic. My second favorite of the three museums.

The P Massimo was my favorite as I am an Ancient History fan. There are entire frescoes, both realistic and fantasy, the garden room from Livia's villa, which is the equal of the Monet Waterlily room in Paris, whole fresco rooms reconstructed, wonderful marble statues, portrait busts, and more. Very few other visitors. You can do the Borghese in the morning and the Massimo in the afternoon.

The Bernini in the Santa Vittoria Church is also magnificent and a short walk away. A half euro coin will turn on the lights for a better view.

Trying to do the Vatican plus anything else cultural on the same day will fry you brain. Doing the Borghese and the Massimo on the same day is only doable because they are so different.
AJPeabody is offline  
Feb 10th, 2014, 03:42 PM
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I love museums and my favorite is the Capitoline. It feels intimate, it has a good and varied collection, the building is beautiful and it has great views into the Forum. To me, it's just the right size.

I also love the Borghese for the sculptures - those are what you should focus on there. Like AJPeabody said, visit the 2nd floor (quickly, IMHO - there are just a few good paintings) and then go back to see the sculptures when the crowds have moved on. Amazing Bernini's. The walk through the gardens to get there is nice too. I like to go there, then walk down to the Piazza del Popolo to visit the Caravaggio paintings at Santa Maria.

I don't really like the Vatican museum - way too big and too many people.
rosetravels is offline  
Feb 10th, 2014, 04:18 PM
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fables is offline  
Feb 11th, 2014, 03:18 AM
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The Vatican Museums can feel like a long slog if you are there at a busy time. If you are in Rome on a Friday (May-Oct, but not Aug), they have late night hours and fewer tourists. (But this is gaining in popularity and I believe you need tix in advance.) There is much to see, including the Raphael rooms and Sistine Chapel, which are near the end. Borgia Apartment frescoes (my favorite)--also near the end.

As mentioned, you need a reservation for Borghese and have to arrive early. Awesome museum--I spent about 20 min in front of Bernini's "Apollo and Daphne." The museum is in a park setting, which makes it a pleasant escape from the bustle of Rome, but adds a few minutes getting there. (e.g., google maps says 21 min by bus from Pantheon and 33 min walking).

You only have 2.5 days and already have a tight schedule with your proposed activities. Maybe the Capitoline would be a good choice, since it would require no advance reservations or decisions, does not seem to be as crowded, and is near your other destinations (Forum and Colosseum). (Note: I thought the audio-guide was a bit confusing to follow and not the best.)
mama_mia is offline  
Feb 11th, 2014, 05:19 AM
Join Date: Sep 2007
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After my last visit to the Vatican Museums I vowed never to return except on an after hours tour. It can be so crowded that you are literally pushed along in some places. Visit the other, smaller museums mentioned and save the Vatican Museums for a splurge later on.
Fra_Diavolo is offline  
Feb 11th, 2014, 08:16 AM
Join Date: Oct 2013
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At the time of my visit to the Borghese Gallery, I was relatively naive in terms of sculpture and seeing Bernini's Josephine is something I've never forgotton. I had no idea that a sculpture could look so 'real' and alive. She looks like she could just get up at any moment and walk away.

Of all my time spent in Rome and all the sculptures I have seen there and elsewhere, Josephine still remains the most memorable.
dulciusexasperis is offline  
Feb 12th, 2014, 08:36 AM
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After my last visit to the Vatican Museums I vowed never to return except on an after hours tour. It can be so crowded that you are literally pushed along in some places>>

Fra diavolo - may I enquire when you last went to the Vatican museums? our first visit was about 7 years ago, and it was indeed a terrible slog - we queued for an hour to get in, we traipsed round in almost literally ever decreasing circles and were terribly tired by the time we emerged after about 5 hours. Admittedly that was in the week after Easter which probably made it more crowded than normal.

When I was in Rome last February attending a language school, and I realised that the museums were on our itinerary, I was full of foreboding, but in fact there was no queue at all to get in, the route has been changed so that those who want to go straight to the Sistine chapel can do so, and therefore, the other rooms are far less crowded. not knowing this, i raced round rather, and in fact had time to go round a second time, at a more leisurely pace, before it was time to meet up with the rest of the group.

fables - of course no-one can predict how crowded it will be in September, and you have only 2.5 days, and i still think that the Capitoline museums might be a better choice for you, but you could still consider the Vatican museums if they fit into your itinerary.
annhig is offline  
Feb 12th, 2014, 09:05 AM
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annhig --

That is welcome news! Our last visit to the museums was about seven years ago, in March. The change-in-route you describe is long overdue. No immediate plans to return to Italy, though.
Fra_Diavolo is offline  
Feb 12th, 2014, 10:28 AM
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Fra Diavolo - I admit to being pleasantly surprised. I still think that they are over-rated and that there are many better and certainly more enjoyable experiences in Rome, but at least they aren't such a slog any more.
annhig is offline  
Feb 12th, 2014, 12:25 PM
Join Date: Nov 2012
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With 2 full days I would do an ancient history day and a Vatican Museums/St. Peter's day.

Doing both with an early start and ticket reservations for the Vatican Museums perhaps with a tour so that after the Sistine Chapel you could shortcut straight to St. Peter's Basilica and avoid the long entrance line.

You can also do the shortcut on your own if they are not enforcing that route as a 'tour groups only' exit?

For the history day; Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill (even if it is just a walk-thru) and end at the Capitoline Museums which has a cafe/restaurant.

With early starts you would have a good portion of the afternoons "for wandering the city center".

Of course it isn't ideal but I would think of those 2 days as 'Highlights' tours of the sites and museums.
Rostra is offline  

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