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Things to do in Rome • Art and culture

Your insider’s guide to the best things to do in Rome – our Renaissance art and architectural highlights, and where to see opera and theatre in Italian capital

Villa Borghese and the Borghese Gardens in Rome

Things to do in Rome: Visit the superlative Borghese Gallery at Villa Borghese© Gianluca Moggi

Art highlights

Madonna of the Pilgrims by Caravaggio at the church of Sant’Agostino in Rome

Caravaggio’s ‘Madonna of the Pilgrims’ at Sant’Agostino

Pick your era. Or your artist. Or alternatively, just rummage through Rome’s overwhelming artistic trove. There are far more artistic here than you could comfortably fit into a year, never mind a weekend. On a first pass, head for our recommended Renaissance highlights…

For full immersion in the 16th and 17th-century glory days of the Eternal City, the Galleria Doria Pamphilj is without equal: works by Titian, Raphael, Bernini and Caravaggio hang in this stunning palazzo.

Tracking the works of Caravaggio will take you to some of the centro storico’s finest churches, including Santa Maria del Popolo, San Luigi dei Francesi and Sant’Agostino. It will also make a visit to the Galleria Borghese a must. Located at the heart of the Borghese gardens – Romans’ favourite strolling ground – this gallery, housed in a glorious 17th-century pleasure pavilion, contains everything from fourth-century AD floor mosaics through Bernini’s ‘Rape of Prosperine’ to works by Rubens, and Venetian masters Veronese, Giorgione and Carpaccio.



Where to see opera in Rome

Roman ruins of the Baths of Caracalla, Rome

The Baths of Caracalla© Adisa/Shutterstock

As for the performing arts, you’re in a city that’s still entranced by opera. Yet, surprisingly, Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera has never ranked among the world’s great opera houses. That said, the lavish interior of the company’s late 19th-century Teatro Costanzi is a joy to sit in, whatever is on stage.

Still more dramatic is the Teatro’s summer season, staged among the towering ruins of the third-century AD Baths of Caracalla – Rome’s nastiest emperor, who, in operatic style, had his own brother murdered in front of their mother.



Venue details

Galleria Borghese Piazzale del Museo Borghese 5. 9am-7pm Tue-Sun. Booking essential.
Galleria Doria Pamphilj Via del Corso 305. 10am-6pm daily.
Sant’Agostino Piazza Sant’Agostino. 7.30am-12.30pm amd 4-6.30pm daily.
Santa Maria del Popolo Piazza del Popolo 12. 7am-noon and 4-7pm Mon-Sat; 7.30am-1.30pm and 4.30-7.30pm Sun.
San Luigi dei Francesi Piazza San Luigi dei Francesi. 10am-12.30pm and 3-7pm Mon-Wed, Fri-Sun; 10am-noon Thu.
Teatro dell’Opera di Roma – Teatro Costanzi Piazza B Gigli 1. +39 06 4816 0255.
Teatro dell’Opera di Roma – Festival Caracalla Terme di Caracalla, viale delle Terme di Caracalla. +39 06 4816 0255.



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