Young Thais are drawn by the big city lifestyle
Capitolene Museums at Piazzo Del Campidoglio
The planet's oldest public museum is a powder keg of legend, lust and melodrama, encapsulated in Rome's collection of classical treasures. The collection was established by Pope Sixtus IV in 1471, who donated a few bronze statues to the city. One of the gifts was the iconic 5th-Century BC Etruscan bronze She-Wolf (complete with suckling Renaissance twins), now feeding happily on Palazzo dei Conservatori's 1st floor.
Museo e Galleria Borghese
There are good art museums. There are great art museums. And then there is the Museo e Galleria Borghese. Upstaging most of the national competition (no mean feat in Italy), and one that is well worth the slight hassle of the phone call or mouse click required to book a ticket. You have bon vivant Cardinal Scipione Borghese to thank for the collection. He was the most ruthless art collector of his day, stopping at nothing to get what he wanted. He had Cavaliere d'Arpino flung into jail in order to confiscate his canvases, and had Domenichino arrested to force him to surrender The Hunt of Diana. Less questionable was his decision to have 17th-Century wedding cake Villa Borghese built to house his ever-expanding cultural booty.
Galleria Doria Pamphilj
Lavish Galleria Doria Pamphilj boasts one of the capital's richest private art collections, with works by Raphael, Caravaggio, Titian, Tintoretto, Brueghel, Bernini and Velázquez in the mix. It is housed in the blingtastic Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, whose decadent Gallery of Mirrors resembles a snack-sized Versailles. Ready to help you tackle the booty is palace resident Jonathon Pamphilj (on the free audioguide), whose anecdotes about the art, sumptuous rooms and the odd ancestral scandal transform the space into a living, breathing entity. The most striking piece is Velázquez's psychologically-present portrait of Pope Innocent X. Upon its unveiling, the pontiff grumbled that the depiction was "too real". He was not wrong - you can actually feel his critical gaze sizing you up. Thankfully, Bernini's sculpted version of the 17th-Century pontiff will not leave you feeling quite as guilty.