Lux in arcana – The Vatican Secret Archive reveals

29 February – 9 September 2012
Lux in arcana – The Vatican Secret Archive reveals
Type: Documentaries

For the first and perhaps only time in history, one hundred original and priceless documents selected among the treasures preserved and cherished by the Vatican Secret Archives for centuriesy leave the Vatican City walls. And they will do so in order to be housed and displayed in the beautiful halls of the Capitoline Museums in Rome.

The exhibition which is conceived for the 4th Centenary of the foundation of the Vatican Secret Archives aims at explaining and describing what the Pope’s archives are and how they work and, at the same time, at making the invisible visible, thus allowing access to some of the marvels enshrined in the Vatican Secret Archives’ 85 linear kilometers of shelving; records of an extraordinary historical value, covering a time-span that stretches from the 8th to the 20th century.
The name, Lux in arcana, conveys the exhibition’s main objective: the light piercing through the Archive’s innermost depths enlightens a reality which precludes a superficial knowledge and is only enjoyable by means of direct and concrete contact with the sources from the Archive, that opens the doors to the discovery of often unpublished history recounted in documents. The exhibition is enriched by multimedia installations, guided by an intriguing but rigorous historical narration, to allow the visitor to experience some famous events from the past and to “re-live” the documents, that will come to life with tales of the context and the people involved. Continue reading


Russian avant-garde at Ara Pacis Museum

April 5 – September 9

The most remarkable achievements of Russian art in the XX century – Cubo-Futurism, with its unique synthesis of European trends of the time, the originality of Abstract art, Constructivism, with its architectural compositions, and Suprematism with its geometric purity – are represented in this single major exhibition: Russian Avant-gardes. Press conference: 4 April 2012.


Opening hours

Tuesday-Sunday: 9.00 am – 7.00 pm;
Last admission 1 hour before closing time;
Closed: Monday, 1 May.

Entrance ticket: TBD
Info: tel. +39 060608 (daily from 9.00 am to 9.00 pm)

Ara Pacis

Represents an important monument to the art of this period, especially because it reveals the relationship with Greek art. Consecrated by Augustus in 9 BC, the Ara Pacis (“Altar of Peace”) was erected to celebrate the peace established by him after the wins in Spain and Gaul, who marked the consolidation of authority over the entire Roman Empire . Since 1938 is in Piazza Augusto Imperatore, but originally it was in the Campo Marzio, the Roman quarter to which Augustus wished to entrust his memory over the Ara Pacis, in fact, here he also built his Mausoleum (ie his grave) and a monumental sundial, the Horologium Augusti solarium or (the Egyptian obelisk of Psammetichus II today in Montecitorio Square).

The Ara Pacis is a square enclosure around the altar of sacrifice: the exterior walls are decorated with bas-reliefs depicting the imperial family, priests and officials who attended the consecration ceremony. Other reliefs show instead the legendary origins of Rome.
The altar was used for prayer and sacrifice animals to the gods: their blood had to be washed away from the holy place and this explains the presence of two drainage holes (ie, openings through which you could remove the blood) .

A trip out of town: let’s go to Ariccia

Ariccia, or simply Riccia or A Riccia, in the Castelli Romani (Roman Hills) dialect, is a delightful town on the ruins of the previous founded Aricia in an undefined period, certainly before Rome: the seventeenth-century researcher Filippo Cluverio assumed (we do not know with what foundation) the date of 2752 BC. Aricia then was one of the leading exponents of the Latin League in ancient times. Over the centuries the territory was an important economic center because crossed by the ancientAppian Way. Countless people have followed in the domination of Ariccia, from the Visigoths of Alaric to the rich and noble Chigi family.

In the high Middle Ages, the city declined and progressively disappeared, only to be reborn at the end of the fifteenth century under the domination of the Savelli family.

Ariccia and its bridge

In 1661 Ariccia became a feud of the Chigi who made the city a place of extraordinary interest with beautiful monumental buildings like the Palazzo Chigi commissioned to Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The palace forms the scenic backdrop of the monumental Piazza di Corte and the Collegiate of Santa Maria Assunta, designed also by Bernini, and is complemented by the picturesque Parco Chigi.

The Palazzo was the Chigi’s  summer residence, in which to stay to escape the heat ofRomeand to be able to provide exciting days of hunting. Inside the palace were filmed the scenes of the famous movie Il Gattopardo.

In 1854 Pope Pius IX inaugurated the Ariccia bridge, the monumental viaduct on Via Appia Nuova.


Today this little and charming town is one of the Castelli Romani most frequented by the Romans to the excellence of its food products, such as his famous Porchetta (roasted pork) that can be eaten at the fraschette (wine cellars)  in which the innkeeper hosts the “traveler” by offering its wine sipped while enjoying the famous pork and other typical local delicious specialties at very affordable prices.

Fraschette specialties

Still considered a place of popular Sunday outing, alongside a well-known winemaking tourism and a flourishing wine industry.

Today we visit the Galleria Borghese!

Galleria Borghese

The splendid small palace that hosts the Borghese Gallery was built at the beginning of the seventeenth century as the private residence and for public representation of the Borghese family in the favorite public park of  the Romans (Villa Borghese).

From the very beginning it housed the collection of cardinal Scipio (1579-1633), nephew of Pope Paul the Fifth Borghese. The picture-gallery had already been transferred there in 1615 and in 1625 about two hundred pieces of ancient sculptures were also transferred there. The original core of the collection testifies cardinal Scipio’s deep interest in antiquity, classicism, and the innovative artistic currents of the time, excluding Medieval art. The collection was increased in the course of time through confiscations, donations, and purchases and was further enriched at the end of the seventeenth century by the inheritance of Olimpia Aldobrandini. In 1807 prince Camillo Borghese, husband of Paolina Bonaparte, had to hand over to Napoleon much of the archaeological collection (154 statues, 160 busts, 170 bass-riliefs, 30 columns, and several vases that today constitute the Borghese Fund at Louvre in Paris). In 1902 the Italian State purchased the rest of the collection and the palace. A long restoration has given back the original white marble color to the façade and rebuilt the external double-flight staircase according to the original design. Currently the collection consists of sculptures, bass-riliefs, and ancient mosaics, sixteenth-seventeenth century paintings, and sculptures. They include masterpieces by Antonello da Messina, Giovanni Bellini, Perugino, Pinturicchio, Veronese, Raphael (Deposition), Domenichino (Diana’s hunt), Titian (Sacred and profane love, Venus blindfolding Love), Correggio (Danae), Caravaggio (Youth with a fruit basket, the Madonna of the footmen, David with Goliath’s head), Rubens (Pietà) and magnificent sculptures by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Apollo and Daphne, the Rape of Proserpina, David) and Canova (Paolina Borghese).

Apollo and Daphne Carrara’s marble cm. 243  Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Apollo and Daphne

This life-size marble sculpture, begun by Bernini at the age of twenty-four and executed between 1622 and 1625, has always been housed in the same villa, but originally stood on a lower and narrower base set against the wall near the stairs. Consequently anyone entering the room first saw Apollo from behind, then the fleeing nymph appeared in the process of metamorphosis: brak covers most of her body, but according to Ovid’s lines, Apollo’s hand can still feel her heart beating beneath it.Thus the scene ends by Daphne being transformed into a laurel tree to escape her divine aggressor.





  Pauline Bonaparte(1805-1808) Antonio Canova

Paolina Bonaparte

This marble statue of Pauline in a highly refined pose is considered a supreme example of the Neoclassical style. Antonio Canova executed this portrait between 1805 and 1808 without the customary drapery of a person of high rank, an exception at the time, thus transforming this historical figure into a goddess of antiquity in a pose of classical tranquillity and noble simplicity.

The Deposition (1602) oil on canvas cm. 180×137  Pieter Paul Rubens

The Deposition

Pieter Paul Rubens, the genius of European Baroque, painted his Deposition during his first stay inRome. Rubens provides us with an extraordinary interpretation of the theme of the incarnation of the divine and human nature of Christ, suspended between death and potential future life. All the shades of the spectrum of light are apparent in the flesh tones, with an opalescence that develops that mother of pearl quality first introduced by Federico Barocci (see also the contrast between the living hand of Mary Magdalene and the bluish tinge of Christ’s as compared with Raphael’s painting).

Madonna of the Palafrenieri (1605) oil on canvas cm. 292×211  Michelangelo Merisi called Caravaggio

Madonna of the Palafrenieri

On 16 April 1606, the large, new canvas of the Madonna of the Palafrenieri was removed from one of the most important altars in St. Peter’s after only a month, because of its lack of decorum and deviance from figurative tradition. It was then exhibited in Cardinal Borghese’s collection in the hall of honour in the palazzo del Borgo and later transferred to the entrance hall in the Villa Borghese.

The novelty of this painting lies in the existential and human drama of the three figures facing danger. St. Anne, in antique style, detachedly contemplates the scene, as Mary teaches the young Jesus how to crush the serpent, symbol of sin and heresy. Darkness envelops the figures set in an undefined place, but an unnaturally bright light bursts forth from above bathing the child’s skin in a warm glow.



Pluto and Proserpina (1621-22) white marble cm. 255  Gian Lorenzo Bernini

The large marble group of Pluto and Proserpina by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, shows Pluto, powerful god of the underworld, abducting Proserpina, daughter of Ceres. By interceding with Jupiter, her mother obtains permission for her daughter to return to earth for half the year and then spend the other half in Hades. Thus every spring the earth welcomes her with a carpet of flowers.

The group was executed between 1621 and 1622. Cardinal Scipione gave it to Cardinal Ludovisi in 1622, and it remained in his villa until 1908, when it was purchased by the Italian state and returned to the Borghese Collection. In this group Bernini develops the twisting pose reminiscent of Mannerism, combined with an impression of vital energy (in pushing against Pluto’s face Proserpina’s hand creases his skin and his fingers sink into the flesh of his victim).

Seen from the left, the group shows Pluto taking a fast and powerful stride and grasping Proserpina, from the front he appears triumphantly bearing his trophy in his arms; from the right one sees Proserpina’s tears as she prays to heaven, the wind blowing her hair, as the guardian of Hades, the three-headed dog, barks. Various moments of the story are thus summed up in a single sculpture.

David (1623-24) white marble cm. 170  Gian Lorenzo Bernini

It was Cardinal Scipione Borghese who commissioned the statue of David, confronting the giant Goliath and armed only with a sling, executed between 1623 and 1624 by twenty-five-year-old Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The youth’s tense facial expression(fig.1) is modelled on Bernini himself as he struggle with his tools to work the hard marble. The oversize cuirass leant to David by King Saul before the encounter lies on the ground with the harp David will play after his victory, which is decorated with an eagle’s head (fig.2), a symbolic reference to the Borghese family.

Boy with a Basket of Fruit   (1571 – 1610)
Oil on canvas, 70 cm × 67 cm (28 in × 26 in) Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

The painting dates the time when Caravaggio, newly arrived in Romehis native Milan, was making his way in the competitive Roman art world. The model is his friend and companion, the Sicilian painter Mario Minniti, at about 16 years old. The work was in the collection of Giuseppe Cesari, the Cavalier d’Arpino, seized by Cardinal Scipione Borghese in 1607, and may therefore date to the period when Caravaggio worked for d’Arpino “painting flowers and fruits” in his workshop; but it may date a slightly later period when Caravaggio and Minniti had left Cavalier d’Arpino’s workshop (January 1594) to make their own way selling paintings through the dealer Costantino. Certainly it cannot predate 1593, the year Minniti arrived in Rome. It is believed to predate more complex works the same period (also featuring Minniti as a model) such as The Fortune Teller and the Cardsharps (both 1594), the latter of which brought Caravaggio to the attention of his first important patron, Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte.

At one level the painting is a genre piece designed to demonstrate the artist’s ability to depict everything the skin of the boy to the skin of a peach, the folds of the robe to the weave of the basket. Also note the shadow along the back wall; Caravaggio is probably painting the shadow of him and his canvas. The fruit is especially exquisite, and Professor Jules Janick of the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Purdue University, Indiana, has analysed them a horticulturalist’s perspective:

The basket … contains a great many fruits, all in nearly perfect condition and including a bi-colored peach with a bright red blush; four clusters of grapes — two black, one red, and one “white;” a ripe pomegranate split open, disgorging its red seeds; four figs, two of them dead-ripe, black ones, both split and two light-colored; two medlars; three apples—two red, one blushed and the other striped, and one yellow with a russet basin and a scar; two branches with small pears, one of them with five yellow ones with a bright red cheek and the other, half-hidden, with small yellow, blushed fruits. There are also leaves showing various disorders: a prominent virescent grape leaf with fungal spots and another with a white insect egg mass resembling that of the oblique banded leaf roller (Choristoneura rosaceana), and peach leaves with various spots.

The analysis indicates that Caravaggio is being realistic, in capturing only what was in the fruit basket; he idealizes neither their ripeness nor their arrangement—yet almost miraculously, we are still drawn in to look at it; for the viewer it is very much a beautiful subject.

At another level commentators have remarked the sensuality of Minniti as portrayed by Caravaggio, with his bared shoulder, slender throat, and languid gaze – so much so that more than one connoisseur over the centuries has taken Minniti for a girl. But if there is a hint of sensuous longing in Caravaggio’s portrayal of Minniti, there is none in Minniti himself: he gives every appearance of a boy posing for a friend with a heavy basket, a little tired, but obliging. This is the first evidence of the psychological, as well as physical, realism that would mark Caravaggio’s mature works.



Rome, Piazzale del Museo Borghese, 5


Fax: 0039 06 32651329 prenotazione gruppi

Online purchase:

Telephone: 0039 06 32810 (lun-ven 9.00-18.00; sab 9.00-13.00) – 8413979

Telephone booking: 0039 06 32810 (lun-ven 9.00-18.00, sab 9.00-13.00)

Telephone purchase: Per singoli 060608 tutti i giorni dalle 9.00 alle 21.00

Web site:


Tuesday-Sunday: 8.30 am – 7.30 pm;
Last admission: 5.30 pm;
Ticket office close at 6.30 p.m;
Closed: Monday, 25 December 2011 and 1 January 2012.
Please note: admission is strictly reduced at only 360 persons every 2 hours (mandatory exit at the end of time slot)Admission is strictly reduced at only 360 persons every 2 hours (mandatory exit at the end of time slot).

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Salvador Dalì

01 March 2012 – 01 June 2012

The exhibition organized in collaboration with the Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation, offers a new approach to the figure of the artist explored in all its many different facets: artist, designer, thinker, writer, passionate about science, catalytic currents of the Vanguards, illustrator, jeweler, designer and filmmaker. It will shed light on an aspect still neglected in studies and exhibitions of Dalì: the Spanish artist’s relationship with Italy.
Italy is in fact a constant, the red wire, the element that held together all the exhibited works.
Through documents, photographs, drawings, letters, projects, objects you can follow in his travels to Italy, and relive the meetings to devise artistic collaborations, such as with Anna Magnani and Luchino Visconti.
The exhibition is the task of weaving the thread between the artist and the man to give back genius Salvador, who managed to create his works by his temperamental and biographical eccentricities,  a fascinating universe and evocative of plastic and literary images really unique.

Opening times

Monday-Thursday: 9.30 am – 7.30 pm;
Friday-Saturday: 9.30 am – 11.30 pm;
Sunday: 9.30 am – 8.30 pm;
Last admission 1 hour before closing time.

Held in

Complesso del Vittoriano

Via di San Pietro in Carcere

Admission and ticketing

Telephone: 0039 06 6780664 – 6780363


Plot against Benedict XVI


Article published by “Il Fatto Quotidiano” on February 10, 2012 by Marco Lillo

“Plot against Benedict XVI
He will die in 12 months”

A note delivered to the Pontiff by cardinal Castrillon a month ago, reports what archbishop of Palermo, cardinal Romeo, said in one of his conversations in China last November: “His interlocutor thought, with fear, that the Pope would be the victim of an attack”. Scola could be his successor. The spokesman of the Holy See, Lombardi: “So incredible we cannot comment on”.

Mordkomplott. “Plot of death”. It is somehow unbelievable to read on a strictly confidential document how an influential Cardinal, such as archbishop of Palermo Paolo Romeo, predicts Pope Benedict’s death no further than November 2012. Being so sure about the death period he made the interlocutors think of the existence of a plot to kill Benedict XVI. The exclusive content published by Il Fatto Quotidiano reveals a note written by anonymous dated Dec. 30th 2011. In Early January, the note was delivered by Colombian Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos to the secretary of State and the secretary of the Pope. Castrillon also suggested making inquiries to understand whom exactly archbishop Romeo talked to while in China.

Continue reading

Roman Carnival 2012



11-21 February 2012 

Born in the Middle Ages, the Roman Carnival, however, saw its maximum splendour after the election of Pope Paul II, who, after the transfer of the papal residence at the Palazzo Venezia, moved to the historical centre, and in particular on via Lata (now Via del Corso ), most of the carnival celebrations.

The Comedy of Art, mask parades, Agonal Games, carnival floats, jousts and tournaments, the highly anticipated Berber horse races and the “moccoletti celebrations” attracted the entire population, but also pilgrims and curious people from around the world. With the arrival of the House of Savoy in Rome in 1870, the Carnival began to decline, especially because of the many incidents that occurred during the games and of the many people who were wounded.

The Carnival in Rometook place in Piazza Navona, where recreational performances and fireworks were organized; Piazza del Popolo, starting point of the most important event of the Carnival: the Berber horse races; Via del Corso, along which the race ran and ended at Piazza Venezia.

The immortality of Roman carnival was praised by writers and poets such as Goethe, Gogol, Stendhal, Dickens and Dumas, and by the painting of Caffi, Shor and Orlov.

If you need a copy of the detailed program of the Roman Carnival write at we will e-mail it to you!