Palazzo Doria Pamphilj is one of Rome’s largest palaces, and remains home to both the Doria Pamphilj family and their art collection which decorates the state rooms and Galleria open to the public. It’s a quiet haven on the Via del Corso, a few steps away from the noisy and frenetic Piazza Venezia. The relatively dark and uninspiring outer buildings give little clue to the treasures that lie within it. And while everyone else was queuing for what could have been hours to get into the nearby Forum & Colisseum, we didn’t have to queue, and there was time and space to wander around, exploring the artworks and even seeing restoration in progress.
There’s a strong British connection within the family, as explained in the free audio-guide narrated by Jonathan Doria Pamphilj – who brought the palazzo to life with tales of Cardinals giving up their position for love, a throne room waiting for the next family pope and/or making a political or artistic statement with its throne facing the wall. Tales of skating in the ballroom that may have housed Handel, a chapel containing two saints rescued from the Roman catacombs in the 17th Century. And then there are the Caravaggios, the Titians, the Breughels, the Caraccis, and other priceless works of art. But beside that, we got glimpses of domesticity – with rooms off the main state rooms set up to show family life in the 18th and 19th Centuries.