Palazzo Altemps


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The 15th- to 16th-century Palazzo Altemps has been beautifully restored to house part of the state-owned Museo Nazionale Romano stock of Roman treasures (the rest is spread between the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme and the Terme di Diocleziano). Here, in perfectly lit salons, loggias and courtyards, you can admire gems of classical statuary from the formerly private Boncompagni-Ludovisi, Altemps and Mattei collections.

The Ludovisis were big on 'fixing' statues broken over the ages or which simply didn't appeal to the tastes of the day. In Room 9, for example, a stately Athena with Serpent was revamped in the 17th century by Alessandro Algardi, who also 'improved' the Hermes Loghios in Room 19 upstairs. In Room 20, the former dining room with pretty 15th-century frescoes on foody themes, is an Ares touched up by Bernini. Room 21 has the Ludovisi Throne, the museum's greatest treasure… or its greatest hoax, if you subscribe to the theory of the late, great art historian and polemicist Federico Zeri. (On what may - or, then again, may not - be a fifth-century BC work from Magna Grecia, Aphrodite is being delicately and modestly lifted out of the sea spray from which she was born; on one side of her is a serious lady burning incense, and on the other is a naked one playing the flute.) In Room 26, a Roman copy of a Greek Gaul's Suicide was commissioned, recent research suggests, by Julius Caesar. Also here is the Ludovisi sarcophagus, which bears some action-packed high reliefs of Roman soldiers trouncing barbarians.

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Palazzo Altemps details

Piazza Sant'Apollinare 46

Area Rome

Transport Bus 30Exp, 40Exp, 46, 70, 81, 87, 116, 492, 628 .

Telephone 06 683 3759

Open 9am-7.45pm (last entry 6pm) Tue-Sun.

Admission €7; €3 concessions;