Galleria Palazzo Spada ☆☆☆

Borromini's Galleria delle Prospettive (Gallery of Perspectives), Galleria Palazzo Spada, Rome, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
Borromini's Galleria delle Prospettive (Gallery of Perspectives)

Rome's Galleria Palazzo Spada is a small private collection in a lovely palace setting

The 1540 Palazzo Spada often causes strollers to pause when passing by for the fabulous stuccoes on its facade and courtyard. It gets even better on the inside.

While the painting gallery it houses is small, it represents one of the best examples of an intact 17th-century private collection, still displayed in rooms with their original furnishings and decor intact.

The 17th- and 18th-century paintings come from the brushes of masters like Titian, Andrea del Sarto, Guido Reni, Guercino, Parmigianino, Jan Brueghel the Elder, and Artemisia Gentileschi.

Off the garden to the right of the stairs up to the gallery is the palazzo's celebrated architectural illusion, Borromini's trompe l'oeil Galleria Prospettica, recently reopened after a long restoration. (See the big picture above.)

It's a corridor that appears to stretch for approximately 35m (120 feet), with a huge statue on a pedestal in the courtyard at the far end—but it is, in reality, just 8.82m (29 feet) long.

Borromini used columns of rapidly diminishing size (and diminishing spaces between each), non-parallel architectural lines, and a statue rather smaller than an average man to create the overall illusion of a longer perspective and, therefore, greater depth.

Photo gallery
  • Borromini
  • The courtyard of the Palazzo Spada, Galleria Palazzo Spada, Italy (Photo by Miguel Hermoso Cuesta)
  • Portrait of a Musician (c. 1545) by Titian, Galleria Palazzo Spada, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • The facade of the Palazzo Spada, Galleria Palazzo Spada, Italy (Photo by Gobbler)
  • David Contemplating the Head of Goliath (1615–20) by Orazio Gentileschi, Galleria Palazzo Spada, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Borromini
  • Borromini
  • Borromini
  • Plan of Borromini
  • Plan of Borromini
  • Young Man (17C) by Annibale Carracci, Galleria Palazzo Spada, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • The Death of Dido (1631) by Il Guercino, Galleria Palazzo Spada, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Virgin with the Child (1611–12) by Artemisia Gentileschi, Galleria Palazzo Spada, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Saint Cecilia as a Lute Player (1610–12 or 1620) by Artemisia Gentileschi or Orazio Gentileschi, Galleria Palazzo Spada, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Portrait of Cardinal Bernardino Spada (1631) by Il Guercino, Galleria Palazzo Spada, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Allegory of the Massacre of the Innocents (1630/50) by Pietro Testa, Galleria Palazzo Spada, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
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Free or reduced admission with a sightseeing card

Get into Galleria Palazzo Spada for free (and skip the line at the ticket booth) with:

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How long does Galleria Palazzo Spada take?

Figure on spending 30–60 minutes in the museum, depending on how much you like art.

Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for sightseeing

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is?... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the museum il museo eel moo-ZAY-yo
...the church la chiesa lah key-YAY-zah
...the cathedral il duomo [or] la cattedrale eel DUO-mo [or] lah cah-the-DRAH-leh
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
Closed day giorno di riposo JOR-no dee ree-PO-zo
Weekdays (Mon-Sat) feriali fair-ee-YA-lee
Sunday & holidays festivi fe-STEE-vee
ticket biglietto beel-YET-toh
two adults due adulti DOO-way ah-DOOL-tee
one child un bambino oon bahm-BEE-no
one student uno studente OO-noh stu-DENT-ay
one senior un pensionato oon pen-see-yo-NAH-toh

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah

* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).