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Buongiorno, Princepessa…


Caravaggio's Rest During the Flight to Egypt

Caravaggio's Rest During the Flight to Egypt

The Galleria Doria Pamphilj is housed in one of the palaces of the Doria Pamphilj family, and just a couple short blocks from the Pantheon, on the Via del Corso in the heart of Rome. Not to be confused with their other Palazzo Pamphilj, which takes up half of the western end of the Piazza Navona, and is now the Brazilian Embassy. Nor the giant Villa Doria Pamphilj not far to the south of the Vatican, in Trastevere, which is second only to the Villa Borghese in size.  of course, all this gives you a sense of the scope of wealth and power wielded by this Roman aristocratic family in the last millennium and more. The beauty of the art inside is an even grander testament to a family that has included popes and princes of Rome, and which, according to Roman legend, is descended from the poet Virgil, no less.

And what better way to tour such a place than with Princepessa Gesine and her husband Don Massimiliano?

Diego Vasquez' Innocent X

Diego Vasquez' Innocent X

Don Massimiliano, who is a Deacon in one of Rome’s suburbicarian Sees, led the tour of the estate, pointing out several of the more well known artists and pieces. There is, for example, Caravaggio’s last work with any kind of landscape, Rest During the Flight to Egypt, or the famous Portrait of Pope Innocent X by Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez (upon seeing it, the pope is said to have exclaimed, “It’s too real!”). You can see some of the pieces at the website.

We went through the family chapel, complete with an extensive reliquary and a semi-secret passage to a private observation booth in the adjacent Church where the noble family could observe the elevation of the host without mingling with the masses. Pun intended.

After the tour, the princepessa and her husband provided welcome hospitality in the family room – complete with antique furniture, marble fireplace, and genuine oil-on-canvass portraits of Donna Gesine’s family going back three generations! We have invited them to the Lay Centre to return the favor, and though we have some decent art – including an original sketch of the Council Fathers at Vatican II – ours is a humble abode by comparison!


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