With colder temperatures announcing the approaching winter, it’s always a pleasure to find intriguing indoor activities. Art lovers and history buffs traveling to Rome this fall will be spoilt for choice on where to spend their time. Here are three cant-miss exhibits to explore now.
Cleopatra: Rome and the Magic of Egypt (Chiostro del Bramante)
Used as a source of inspiration for countless books and movies still 2,000 years after her death, this spellbinding exhibition on Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt and one of the most famous and controversial women in history, at the Chiostro del Bramante is a must-see.The spectacular exhibition — which stands as the first major exhibition on Cleopatra in Rome in 13 years — includes more than 180 pieces focusing on the relation between Cleopatra and the city of Rome where, at 20 years old, she allured both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, paving the way to the sordid connection between power and seduction prevalent throughout history.
The exposition highlights different aspects of Egyptian society and its connection with Rome, all divided into nine sections. Browse the various rooms to observe paintings, frescoes and rare ancient mosaics (including a mosaic of the Nile from the Priverno Museum), as well as portraits of Octavia (Antony’s wife) and Alexander the Great (from the Louvre in Paris), among others.
The exposition also runs through the queen’s years in Rome, from 46 to 44 B.C., with the main events chronicled through paintings, precious coins and other rare objects, and continues up until her suicide. This showcase is a must-see for anyone drawn to the life and charm of this iconic woman in history.
On display until February 2; Entrance fee is 13 euros ($17.57 US); Open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily and until 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Augusto (Scuderie del Quirinale)
As a noteworthy quirk of fate, right in the same months of Cleopatra’s show, another great exhibition is taking place in Rome, Augusto, celebrating the leading figure of Augustus, emperor of ancient Rome and Cleopatra’s nemesis. In conjunction with the 2,000th anniversary of his death, the Scuderie del Quirinale will be the exclusive venue for this exhibit, devoted to the character who played a significant role in transitioning the republic from years of war to the early formation of the Roman Empire.
Under Augustus’ 40-plus year rule, which was considered a time of peace and stability, the empire reached its greatest expansion, stretching into Europe and Asia Minor. With the help of some 200 pieces, ranging from sculptures, portraits, home décor in silver, gold and glass, and jewelry in gold and precious stones, you’ll be able to delve into the emperor’s life and career, gaining an understanding of how he shaped a new culture that served as the foundation of Western civilization.
On display until February 9; Entrance fee is 12 euros ($16.22 US); Open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily and until 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
The Treasure of Naples (Fondazione Roma Museo)
For the first time outside Naples, The Treasure of San Gennaro, one of the world’s most impressive jeweled collections of 70 religious pieces, will be displayed along with original documents, paintings and sacred décor in Rome at the Fondazione Roma Museo.
Given all that opulence, it’s a real treat to get up close and personal to the fortune that is considered to be worth more than Britain’s Crown Jewels. Furthermore, the impressive collection served as donations from European royalty over the span of seven centuries to the patron saint of Naples, San Gennaro (Saint Januarius in English), who was a bishop martyred in the 3rd century A.D. and is considered to be a protector against wars, plagues and earthquakes.
Worth noting are two of the exhibit’s extraordinary pieces. The first is the necklace of San Gennaro, considered one of the world’s most precious pieces of jewelry, which is made of gold, silver and precious stones, including jewel-studded crosses donated by European royalty, as well as famed French emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte. The second can’t-miss item is the bishop’s miter (headgear), worn by San Gennaro during parades and festivals, which is adorned with gilded silver and enriched with 3,326 diamonds, 164 rubies and 198 emeralds. Apart from the sheer beauty of the stunning works of art, the objects on display are also a valuable testimony to the bygone days of Naples, a time travel experience in and of itself to witness the evolution of the city’s history, art and devotion to its valued saint throughout the centuries.
On display until February 16; Entrance fee is 10 euros ($13.52 US); Open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, except on Mondays when it opens at 3 p.m.
Photos Courtesy of Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali e del Turismo, Michele Dato and Scuderie del Quirinale