It is considered one of the most beautiful museums of the world, but curiously not a museum as this institution is traditionally meant! It is the collection of the Cardinal Scipione Borghese nephew of the Pope Paul V including statues, reliefs, paintings, mosaics from the ancient roman times till the age of masters like, just to mention the most famous, Raphael, Titian, Bernini and Caravaggio. So, don't expect an itinerary, a logic in the exhibition, not a lesson at the end of which you'll learn something about the past as usually happens in a museum, but a chance for the owner of the collection to show power and luxury.
It can also be considered a way to experience the man behind the collection; Scipione was definitely an offbeat and outsider Cardinal, vainly introduced by the Pope to the highest hierarchies of the ecclesiastic carrier and using instead his position of privilege as a way to obtain by all means, even the most subtle, another tile in the mosaic of his enormous ego through enlarging his collection!
His craving was so big that he even stole a canvas by Raphael in a church with the complicity of the priest, imprisoned an artist called Domenichino as a way to convince him to hand over a painting, made pressure over Caravaggio, condemned to death and so asking for mercy to the Cardinal, using the anguish of the master as an instrument to obtain his last masterpieces with the only purpose to enrich his personal gallery of art.
So you'll be struggling to find the right balance between a display of erudition and taste, and the ethically reprehensible, cruel habits of a man of power. Yours will be an active participation to this experience, you won't be only spectators of a cabinet of wonders but judges of his vaunt, vainglory and greed.
Nevertheless, in this tour you'll appreciate and plunge yourself into the beauty and the charm of collecting, virtually meet the man who will take you around and instill in you the love for art. You'll experience the other side of his personality, the refined and elegant owner of the house whose homage to the noble principle of hospitality is reflected in what he thought the attitude a visitor should have been for this experience. The modern guest can read it in an inscription working as a declaration of intents: “I, custodian of Villa Borghese, publicly declare as follows: Whoever you may be, provided you are a free man, do not fear the hindrance of regulations; go where you will, ask what you desire; leave when you wish. These delights have been created more for visitors than for the owner. In the golden century in which security renders everything gold, the owner forbids strict laws to be imposed on the visitor who lingers here. May the friend find good will here in place of the law, if on the contrary someone with deliberate and conscious evil intent, breaks the golden law of courtesy, be warned that the custodian will tear up his token of friendship".
So be prepared to this unique experience in Rome but probably worldwide, a journey through history of art, from the ancient roman times till the XIX century.
tours don't run on sundays and in the following days: january 1 and december 25.
the meeting time is 15 min prior to the beginning of the tour