Rome: where to see Caravaggio’s masterpieces.

Italy is a very popular travel destination and wonderful historic country. It is one of the world’s centres of magnificent art, architecture, literature, music, and fashion. Italian people have an amazing cuisine and such romantic language.  

Italy carries a unique art collection carefully preserved through centuries. Museums and galleries have an inspiring work by notable painters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Caravaggio, and others. I was melted into the breathtaking beauty and the genuine art of Italy.  

Rome offers outstanding collections of famous works, and one of them is remarkable Caravaggio paintings. 

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

Michelangelo Merisi, known as Caravaggio, was an Italian painter. He was born in 1571, in a little town near Milan. After both parents passed away, he began an apprenticeship in Milan with an Italian painter who was mostly known as the master of Caravaggio. Losing parents at age 13 affected the character of Caravaggio. As he grows, the personal life of the hot-tempered young artist was full of terrible scandals, fights, and prison sentences. After murdering men over a card game, he moved to Rome. 

The art life in Rome was rich with magnificent creations for Caravaggio. He became the most famous painter in Rome. But, continuous violence, drinking, gambling, and abusing people accompanied him all his life. After a quarrel, Caravaggio killed Ranuccio Tomassoni during the tennis match. He escaped from Rome and spent the rest of his life on the run. He died at an age of 39. Reports stated that he died in an agony of a fever, but rumors held that Caravaggio was killed in revenge or died from malaria or of lead poisoning, which contained in the paint.

Caravaggio was an amazing artist. His realistic depiction of the human figure, characterized by great drama, deep color, and spotlighted against a dark background was creating a strong contrast. The scenes were dramatic, powerful, and emotional. 

 Among the greatest painters of the Baroque period, Caravaggio recognized as the father of modern painting. His technique was inspired and influenced so many future masters.  

Most of his masterpieces are in galleries and museums in Rome, but you can also see them in basilicas for free. Also, Caravaggio walks tours are available in Rome. But I am absolutely sure with a little effort you can organize your own tour and spend as much time as you want to admire the art.

Chiesa di Sant’Agostino

Via della Scrofa, 80, free

Chiese di Sant’Agustino

Historic Basilica of St. Augustine located near the Piazza Navona. In the basilica, you will see the painting by Caravaggio Madonna di Loreto, in the Cavalletti Chapel. This is one of the best works of an incredible artist. The work was commissioned in 1603 by the heirs of the Marquis Ermete Cavalletti to decorate the family chapel. Over time, the painting received the second name Madonna del Pellegrini.

Madonna di Loreto

The church, also, has frescoes of the Prophet Isaiah by Raphael and the sacred statue of Saint Anne and Virgin with Child, by Andrea Sansovino. A ceiling fresco of the Assumption painted by Baroque artist Giovanni Lanfranco.

Santa Maria del Popolo

Piazza del Popolo, 12, free

Santa Maria del Popolo is an attractive basilica on the north side of Piazza del Popolo, where you can see two large Baroque canvases by Caravaggio.


The Conversion of Saint Paul on the Road to Damascus was painted in 1601 for the Cerasi Chappel. The second Caravaggio painting in the Chapel is the famous Crucifixion of Saint Peter. Together Saint Paul and Saint Peter represented the foundation of the Catholic Church. They were called the Princes of the Apostles.


The magnificent dome of the Chapel is decorated with Raphael’s gorgeous mosaics, the Creation of the World. Also, there is the work of several remarkable artists, such as Bernini, Pinturicchio, Andrea Bregno, Guillaume de Marcillat, and Donato Bramante.

San Luigi dei Francesi

Piazza di S. Luigi de’ Francesi, free

San Luigi dei Francesi is a beautiful Roman Catholic Church and located not far from Piazza Navona. The church was founded in 1518 by Cardinal Giulio Medici (future Pope Clement VII in 1523-1534). Giacomo della Porta, who worked on many buildings in Rome, including St. Peter’s Basilica, created the facade.

Contarelli Chapel has a cycle of Caravaggio masterpieces about the life of St. Matthew: The Calling of Saint Matthew, The inspiration of Saint Matthew and The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew. 

Palazzo Corsini

Gallerie Nazionali di Arte Antica – Galleria Corsini 

Via della Lungara, 10, € 12 – Full Ticket Palazzo Barberini + Corsini Galleries

The Palazzo Corsini is an attractive building in Trastevere. Gallerie Nazionali di Arte Antica – Galleria Corsini contains three Caravaggio works: Judith Beheading Holofernes, Narcissus, and John the Baptist.

Judith Beheading Holofernes is a painting of the biblical episode. The widow Judith first charms the Syrian general Holofernes, got him drunk, and then decapitates him in his tent.

Judith Beheading Holofernes

Narcissus, according to the legend, is a handsome young man who has fallen in love with his own reflection. Unable to stop admiring himself, he died of his passion and even after death, continued to look at his reflection. The story of Narcissus inspired many artists.

Narcissus

John the Baptist was the subject of at least eight paintings by Caravaggio displayed in different cities. The model was a boy named Cecco, Caravaggio’s servant, and possibly his pupil.

John the Baptist

Galleria Borghese

Piazzale Scipione Borghese 5, € 15

The Galleria Borghese is a house of art. It has displays of the impressive collection of ancient sculptures, gorgeous mosaics, and magnificent paintings and sculptures dating from the 15th through the 19th centuries.

Galleria Borghese 

In the gallery, you will see paintings by Caravaggio, Titian, Canova, and Raphael. The collection of sculptures by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and more.

Galleria Borghese has most of the Caravaggio paintings: Boy with a Basket of Fruit, Young Sick Bacchus, Saint Jerome Writing, Madonna with Child with St. Anne, John the Baptist, David with the Head of Goliath.

Capitoline Museum 

Piazza del Campidoglio 1, € 15

Capitoline Museum is one of the popular museums in Rome and located in the heart of the city at the Piazza del Campidoglio, Capitoline Hill. 

One of the most recognizable and original statue Capitoline Wolf displayed in the Capitoline Museum, but a copy on a pillar you can see at the northern corner of Palazzo Senatorio.

The Capitoline Museums has two paintings by Caravaggio: The Fortune Teller and John the Baptist.  

The Fortune Teller painting exists in two versions. The first painting is in the Musei Capitolini in Rome, the second is in the Louvre Museum, Paris. Both variants show a well-dressed young boy having his palm read by Gypsy girl. He looks charmed by her beauty, but he didn’t notice she removed his ring from the finger.

John the Baptist lived in the wilderness of Judea between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. He baptized Jesus in the Jordan and was eventually assassinated by Herod Antipas, when he requested the king to correct his evil ways. John was often depicted in Christian art; he can be recognized by his bowl, reed cross, camel skin and lamb. 

John the Baptist

Doria Pamphili Gallery

Via del Corso, 305, €14 – Galleria Doria Pamphilj, €9 – Villa del Principe

The Doria Pamphili Gallery is the stunning palace with a large art collection. It is still privately owned by the princely Roman family Doria Pamphili. Guided tours often culminate in concerts of Baroque and Renaissance music.

The Doria Pamphili Gallery

The Gallery has three remarkable Caravaggio’s paintings: Penitent Magdalene, Rest on the Flight into Egypt, and John the Baptist

Eleven copies of John the Baptist were made, including one in the Doria Pamphili Gallery on the Roman Corso.

John the Baptist



Most of the paintings are showing John in his early years, but Caravaggio also composed three great narrative scenes of John’s violent death: The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist in Valletta, Malta, and two Salome with the Head of John the Baptist one in Madrid and one in London.

Vatican Museum

Vatican City, €17

The Vatican Museum is one of the largest and most visited art museum in the world. There are 54 galleries in total, with the Sistine Chapel. The museum contains roughly 70,000 works, of which 20,000 are on display. They exhibit significant masterpieces of Renaissance art and Roman sculptures. This is a must-see museum.

Caravaggio created one of his most admired altarpieces, The Entombment of Christ, in 1603–1604 for Santa Maria in Vallicella church, also called Chiesa Nuova. A copy of the painting is in the chapel, but the original is in the Vatican Pinacoteca.

The Entombment of Christ

Tips:

In addition, I recommend you to download on your mobile phone application called ‘Rick Steves ‘Audio Europe’. This app contains free self-guided walking tours and geographic information. Rick Steves is an American travel writer. He wrote many travel guides books. He has hosted a travel series on television and has a radio travel show. We found his lectures very informative, easy, and interesting to listen to. We used this app on our trip, and we did not regret it. Select the destination, download it at home over Wi-Fi and you are ready to use. Just don’t forget the earplugs. This way you will get interesting information and will save money. 

For the Vatican museum, we bought tickets online from the official website. There you can choose just the regular entrance tickets or have an apéritif in the Pinecone Courtyard or a guided tour on of your preference. We bought just regular tickets. The most important aspect that all these tickets include skip the line option. It means that you don’t have to stay on the line to get inside the museum to buy your tickets. There will be a separate entrance for people who have already purchased tickets. You will only need to stay on the line for security, but this will go quickly. We were in within 10 minutes, saved our time and a decent amount of money.  

Now you can make your own plan. 

Enjoy!

If you interesting in art please read my post Bernini’s masterpieces in Rome and tips for travelers.

References:

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caravaggio

Biography – https://www.biography.com/artist/caravaggio

ArtTrav: life, art and travel in Italy – https://www.arttrav.com/rome/caravaggio/

My Travel Essentials:

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Lewis N. Clark RFID Neck Stash

Door Stopper Security Alarm

Money Belt for Travel with RFID

Bose, Portable Speaker

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