It’s not easy to stand out as an
artist in Rome when Da Vinci and Bernini are your competition, but Roman
architects like Francesco Borromini shaped this city.
Bernini, Michelangelo, and
Caravaggio. These are the big names for Roman art. However, one of the most
important baroque artists cannot be found in a museum, but all over the streets
Francesco Borromini was a
groundbreaking architect who helped create Baroque architecture. His churches
and buildings are based on geometric figures instead of proportions of the
human body, which continues to be a unique approach. While he is less known
than Bernini, his collaborations are a must see when traveling to Rome.
6 p.m. à To the Nunnery!
Start your Borromini tour with Santa Maria
dei Sette Dolori in Trastevere. This nunnery turned hotel is a quiet, simple
example of Borromini’s baroque style.
Constructed in the 1640s, the unfinished
nunnery served as a military hospital in the 1800s and a safe haven for Jews
Its simple façade was
stripped along with most of its art during the Napoleonic period, but the
beautiful tile and marble work makes a visit to this small church worth it.
Location: Santa Maria dei Sette Dolori 27 Via Garibaldi
Hours: Holy Mass at 7:15 a.m., 8 a.m. on holidays, open to
the public all day
8 p.m. à Traipsing through Trastevere
Wander through the alleyways of Trastevere
on your way to dinner. There is no end to the cute street vendors and shops in
this area. Stop at Enoteca Trastevere for dinner.
Their bruschette antipasta is unique and
their large pasta selection always makes choosing an entrée difficult. Sit
outside and enjoy people watching as tourists and locals alike stroll through
this neighborhood. Or come here to watch soccer games with all the locals as
they gather in the street and careen to see the screens inside.
Location: Enoteca Trastevere 86 Via della
Hours: closed Monday, 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Tuesday through Sunday
11 p.m. à Leave the gun, take the cannoli
Make sure to save room for dessert and head
over to Ciuri Ciuri for cannoli or gelato. This is a local Sicilian bakery that
is hidden away, but absolutely delicious.
The cannoli are filled right in front of
you and you can choose either plain, dipped in chocolate chips, or dipped in
pistachio. If you aren’t a fan of cannoli, try their gelato. The pistachio is
out of this world and the cannolo flavor tastes exactly like cannoli filling.
The staff is friendly and it is the perfect sized dessert. Take it to go and
wander through Piazza San Cosimato.
Location: Ciuri Ciuri 49 B Piazza San
Hours: open until 12 a.m.
9:30 a.m. à Just Around the River Bend
Go around Bernini’s Fountain of the Four
Rivers and into Sant’Agnese in Agone. This baroque church is frequently over
looked in favor of the busy sidewalks of Piazza Navona despite being the site
of Saint Agnese’s martyrdom.
This church exemplifies Borromini’s
geometric style with conflicting concave-convex façade and staircase, a wide
round dome, and overall elliptical shaped space.
The interior is colorful and overwhelming, but
also peaceful in the midst of all of the tourists and vendors of Piazza Navona.
Location: Sant’Agnese in Agone 30 A Via
Santa Maria Piazza Navona
Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from
3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., closed Mondays
11 a.m. à Optical Illusion in an Art Museum
Borromini did not originally design the
Palazzo Spada, but he was commissioned to modify this now art museum in 1632. Borromini
changed this entire Palazzo into a work of art by creating a forced perspective
optical illusion in the arcade courtyard.
The art museum houses Cardinal Spada’s
collection and includes works from Caravaggio, Rubens, and many others. But
this art museum is not just celebrated for its art, but also for its physical
structure because of Borromini’s hard work and creativity.
Location: Palazzo Spada 13 Piazza Capo di
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 7:30
Unlike churches, clock towers are not as
common in Rome and you won’t see one on every corner. The Torre dell’Orologio
is especially unique because of Borromini’s use of stone, iron, and bronze.
The building itself is rather simple, but
the clock tower is concave with a detailed mosaic under the clock. It also has
an iron canopy over the bell and two bronze stars on either side of the tower.
Even for just a quick passing glance, this tower is extraordinary.
Location: Torre dell’Orologio Via dei
3 p.m. à A Borromini Overview
Next to the Torre dell’Orologio is the
Oratorio dei Filippini. This Oratory is part of the Chiesa Nuova Santa Maria in
Vallicella compound and was designed by Borromini after he won a competition.
The Oratory is a good summary of
Borromini’s architectural characteristics as the façade is concave with
complicated column work and details. There is a clear influence from geometric
patterns and more care is given to the façade and column work than anything
This stereotypical Borromini building is
right in the heart of Rome and is a good example of the beauty that can come
Location: Oratorio dei Filippini 17a Via
11 p.m. à A new art form, mixing
Try 8 Millimetri, a cozy bar with classic
drinks and innovative cocktails all made in front of you by a bartender. This
is more of an experience then a bar as the bartender puts on a show mixing
drinks for everyone.
The atmosphere is perfect for hanging out
after a long day of sight seeing and try one of their interesting cocktails
like the classic Sin Fizz, a fancy gin and tonic, or something more exotic like
a cocktail with tequila, absinthe, and Tabasco.
Location: 8 Millimetri 8 Via del Moro
Hours: 6:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.
12 p.m. à Snake inspired church
Start your Sunday a little later at San
Carlo alle Quattro Fontane. Borromini’s first independent commission is a still
functioning church and has been since 1646.
Although struggling financially to complete
the church after Cardinal Francesco Barberini, the patron, lost all his money,
the convex-concave façade is still intriguing and one of a kind.
Because of its location in the monastic
complex for the Spanish Trinitarians, this church is uniquely shaped which is
obvious from its elliptical interior. This commission was certainly challenging
for Borromini and showcases his skill.
Location: San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane 23
Via del Quirinale
Hours: Mass every Sunday at 11 a.m., open
on Sundays from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.
10. 2 p.m. à Party Palace turned Museum
Finish your weekend in Rome by visiting the
Palazzo Barberini and the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica. Borromini began
working on this complex with his uncle and then finished with his rival,
Bernini. With the three architects came three different styles and the building
became a revolutionary urban oasis and seat of power for the Barberini family.
are many different aspects to this Palazzo but some not to miss are
Borrommini’s staircase, the Raphael, and the Caravaggio in the museum. Don’t
miss out on this beautiful juxtaposition of art and architecture.
Location: Palazzo Barberini 13 Via delle
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to
Sunday, tickets available at the door