As you approach the Colosseum from Via del Corso, you will undoubtedly pause for a moment when you suddenly come across the imposing, large, white building, whose origin and purpose are not known to everyone. This is the Vittoriano, a monument in honor of the first King of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II.
But if you turn around (with the Vittoriano behind you), you’ll see another building on the left, whose history is equally fascinating but often goes unnoticed: the Palazzo Venezia. When you enter this building (or its courtyard), you’ll notice something within seconds: the silence. Even though just outside, due to the central traffic hub, there was a deafening street noise, there’s a soothing calmness here.
As you climb the stairs to the palace’s gigantic halls, you become more certain that this pleasant silence will pervade all the rooms, allowing you to better absorb the history of the building and its art collection.
We owe the fact that the Palazzo Venezia is in Rome to Pope Paul II. In 1455, he had the palace expanded through new construction and temporarily even moved his residence here. You’ll encounter his brush right at the beginning of the tour – perfectly showcased by appropriate lighting and positioning in the room.
After passing through two smaller rooms (Sala del Pappagallo and Sala delle Fatiche di Ercole), you’ll come across three large halls, which appear even more majestic thanks to their 3-D wall paintings. Opulent chandeliers provide light to the rooms, and the mosaics on the floor evoke the ancient world. The combination of these elements exudes an impressive power. It’s no wonder that these rooms are often used for exhibitions by artists or fashion designers.
After these three halls, the art museum begins, housing some interesting objects. While you can’t compare the collection here to the city’s major museums, you’ll find a few interesting works from the Middle Ages to the Baroque.
The museum also has something to offer for Bernini fans. There are several smaller terracotta works that served as models or for study purposes for larger objects by the artist. Among them is the sculpture “Angel with Title”, which is displayed behind a glass case. This angel later adorned the Angels Bridge, along with nine other angels, in a larger marble version. However, today, only the copy stands on the bridge; the original is housed in the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte to protect it from theft and vandalism.
The Palazzo Venezia, with its history and rooms, always surprises with its little discoveries and should be on the to-do list for those who have already seen Rome’s “classics” and want to explore its hidden highlights.