It’s a common thing to say: the eternal city hides rare beauties. That is why sometimes it doesn’t suffice to admire what Rome has to offer on the outside. It’s worth to go the so-called extra mile and search for majestic pieces of art that are often invisible to the casual eye.
So we have a suggestion for you. Take a step toward the artistic richness that Rome has to show. Discover the treasures that Caravaggio left behind during his stay in Rome.
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The 10-stop tour
1 – Basilica di Santa Maria del Popolo
The Church hosts two works by the lombard painter: Conversione di san Paolo and the Crocifissione di san Pietro. These two paintings are a perfect exhibit of the innovative elements of his technique. His peculiar use of lights and shadows that enhances the volume, almost sculptural, of the painted subjects.
2 – Galleria Borghese
Galleria Borghese features the biggest group of Caravaggio roman works. That includes:: il Fanciullo con canestra di frutta, il Bacchino malato, la Madonna dei Palafrenieri, il Davide con la testa di Golia, San Girolamo scrivente, San Giovanni battista. Still life, symbolism and allegory. All of this masterfully pictured on a canvas.
3 – Convent and Church of Santa Maria della Concezione
One of the chapels of the Church hosts the San Francesco in meditazione. There’s a debate going on about the authenticity of the painting. The same subject is portrait on a piece found in a sacristy of the Church of St. Peter at Carpineto Romano and hosted now in Palazzo Barberini. Two almost identical copies.
4 – Palazzo Barberini
Besides the debated San Francesco in meditazione, the building features another famous Caravaggio piece, the Narciso. This piece has an unmistakable choice of colors, the picture perfect motions and the features of the subject reflected in the water..
5 – Galleria Doria Pamphilj
Here you can admire the Riposo durante la fuga in Egitto – one of the young painter’s masterpieces both in terms of format and in terms of the portrayed event – and the Maddalena penitente, a painting from his roman days and that represents the woman refusal of her past mundane life.
6 – Pinacoteca capitolina
At piazza del Campidoglio, inside the Capitolini Museums, there are two pieces of the lombard artist. The Buona ventura depicts an ordinary everyday scene in the center of Rome: a gypsy woman steals a ring off a young knights’ hand while pretending to read his hand.. And the San Giovanni Battista, one of the two basically identical copies of the same painting painted in the same year. And one of the seven versions that show Caravaggio’s model of male beauty.
7 – Palazzo Corsini
Here you will find another version of San Giovanni Battista, represented here in its most intimate and human version. Highlighted by a revolutionary sense of realism. The use of lighting is done in a way that the light highlights the “man” while a marginal role in the shadow have the typical iconographic aspects of the “saint”..
8 – Vatican Museums
Another masterpiece of great realism and drama that dates back to the last roman stint of the painter is the Deposizione. This is the only Caravaggio piece to be confiscated from the churches of Rome due to the Tolentino treaty between France and Papal State.
9 – Chiesa di Sant’Agostino
The Madonna dei Pellegrini is held inside the Cavalletti chapel inside the Church of Sant’Agostino. With this painting Caravaggio pushes the envelope once again when it comes to the traditional iconography of the Holy Mary high in the sky surrounded by angels. Caravaggio depicts her as a normal human being on the door of what could be a typical old roman house..
10 – Chiesa di San Luigi dei Francesi
Our tour of beauty ends a few steps away from Piazza Navona inside the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi. The Church hosts three Caravaggio pieces that describe three different moments in the life of St. Matthews: la Vocazione di san Matteo, il Martirio di san Matteo and San Matteo e l’angelo.
Once again Caravaggio’s touch is unmistakable. Those “holy” moments are projected into an everyday life to highlight the realistic and emotional elements.
A really great treasure that you cannot miss.