A story told through art: Discover Rome’s frescoes

Nov 15,2016

The historic, the artistic, the sublime. Rome is the home of some of the world's most impactful, educative and awe-inspiring sites, with layer upon layer of rich historical context to discover. One of the most rewarding ways to experience The Eternal City is through the iconic frescoes that adorn so many of its world-famous buildings. Our own hotel, Grand Palace Hotel Rome, is itself home to a group of stunning and authentic frescoes that were painted by the Venetian artist, Guido Cadorin (1892-1976) in 1926, who was considered a true artistic genius of his generation.

The paintings depict the lavish lifestyles of influential figures of the time. Swathed in luxurious fabrics and bejewelled in magnificent rings and necklaces, it's clear from the frescoes that these were no ordinary people. It's because of this that the paintings were the centre of a scandal when Guido first completed them. The high-profile subjects of the paintings were outraged that they'd been displayed so garishly going about their business on the walls.  


At the time, it was considered unusual, and even distasteful, for members of high society to be portrayed openly like this. So much so that the hotel staff felt the paintings were acting as a deterrent to potential guests, leading them to cover them up with sheets just four months after completion. Today, however, the paintings are celebrated as a fascinating representation of an era that was rich in glamour and sophistication. 

Pictures speak a thousand words: Rome in frescoes

We've selected three of our favourite sites to discover Rome's awe-inspiring artistic heritage, which are must-see attractions if you're planning a visit.

Sistine Chapel, The Vatican


A trip to Rome isn't complete without witnessing the miraculous and renowned High Renaissance work of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel. Despite five centuries passing since its completion (it was produced between 1508-1512), the frescoed ceiling has held up remarkably well. In fact, there is only one small component missing - a section of the sky in the panel that depicts Noah's escape from the great biblical flood. The dizzying work covers the entirety of the vault and is considered to be among the most important paintings in the world.

Tickets: Tickets to get access to the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums cost €16.00: https://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/musei/tickets/do.

Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 9am to 4pm (Museums close at 6pm). Free entrance on the last Sunday of every month from 9am to 12:30pm.

Palazzo Farnese, Centro Storico


Michelangelo's influence can be found once more in the Palazzo Farnese, which was started in 1514 by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, continued by Michelangelo and then finished by Giacomo della Porta. Home to the French Embassy, this vast High Renaissance palace is one of the most important in Rome, and it houses a series of spectacular frescoes by Annibale Carracci. These exquisite paintings are said to rival Michelangelo's works in the Sistine Chapel, with the highlight being the staggering ceiling fresco Amori degli Dei (The Loves of the Gods). Gazing up at the pagan imagery, you'll witness Caracci's swirling style, which indicated the very birth of Baroque.

Tickets: Visits take place in the form of a 45-minute guided tour, and you'll need to book tickets for €9 at least a week in advance for the palazzo: https://www.inventerrome.com/index.php/en/visiting-the-palazzo-farnese .

Villa Farnesina


Villa Farnesina is a private Renaissance villa that was built for a rich Sienese banker, who was also the treasurer of Pope Julius II, in the 16th century. It's frescoed with a range of paintings from several artists including Raphael, Sebastiano del Piombo, Giulio Romano, and Il Sodoma. Raphael's work is probably the best known in the villa, and sits on the ground floor, depicting the classical myths of Cupid and Psyche. It's particularly fascinating to visit this location if you've also made a trip to the Palazzo Farnese on your tour of Rome - Michelangelo actually proposed that the two buildings be joined together by a bridge when he was working on the latter.

Tickets: Tickets cost €6 for 18-65 year olds, and €5 for 14-18 year olds, 65 + year olds, teachers with credentials and ICOM Holders: http://www.villafarnesina.it/?page_id=31&lang=en

Perusing the frescoes of Rome's  vast array of often formidable architecture can be considered a truly therapeutic and hypnotic pastime. It's one that will not only educate and inspire you, but will leave you marvelling at history. 

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