Palazzo (not Villa, not Galleria!) Borghese and Galleria Cembalo

The Borghese name may be famous to tourists for the magnificent art collection of Galleria Borghese and the surrounding green oasis of Villa Borghese, our local park.  But the Borghese family owned numerous properties, one of which is an oddly shaped palazzo not far from us. And, it is a hidden gem.

Palazzo Borghese is a few minutes walk from us, heading toward the river.  Palazzo Borghese has two very different looking — and differently sized — facades.  The one closest to the Tiber is very small, and a bit skewed:

The small end of Palazzo Borghese, nearest to the river

Looking at the small end from the right angle, you can see that the palazzo itself is much wider:

The palazzo curves out on the right

The front facade is traditional, massive, and stately:

The massive, traditional looking front facade

Today the palazzo houses part of the Spanish Embassy, complete with armed guards at the entrance. Ask, and they will let you into this magnificent place to see the small, free photography gallery inside.  You’ll enter what must be one of the prettiest courtyards in Rome:



We walked through the courtyard (past a very pretty silver Ferrari) into a garden filled with orange trees and elaborate fountains,






At the very end of the courtyard is Galleria Cembalo, the nickname of this oddly shaped building, which translate to “harpsichord.”  The gallery, free and open to the public, focuses on photography. The exhibit we saw did have some English-language information. And, it’s housed in this beautiful palazzo!

Photography exhibits housed in …


… a Renaissance palazzo, under beautiful ceilings

Galleria Cembalo is open Thursdays and Fridays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and on Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.  Since the gallery may be closed between exhibits, make sure to check the website before going.  It’s a little gem, within easy walking distance of the apartment, and perfect for a little modern art fix before aperitivo time!