5 extraordinary sculptures in Rome

1) Bernini's Two Angels

Perhaps you’ve already seen angels identical to these on the Castel Sant’Angelo Bridge. In fact, those are the copies. Pope Clement IX deemed Bernini’s late-17th-century originals too precious to be exposed to the elements. Today they’re at the sides of the presbytery.

one of Bernini's angels at Basilica of Sant' Andrea delle Fratte

at: the Basilica of Sant' Andrea delle Fratte, Via di Sant’Andrea delle Fratte 1

+39 (0)6 679 3191

2) Ecstasy of Blessed Ludovica Albertoni by Bernini

Bernini said he was trying to portray the ecstasy of communing with God. But for centuries, naughty observers have perceived an ecstasy of the carnal nature in the sculpture of Ludovica Albertoni, much as they have in Bernini’s more famous Ecstasy of Saint Teresa (inside Rome’s Santa Maria della Vittoria). You decide.

Ecstasy of Blessed Ludovica Albertoni by Bernini

at: the Church of San Francesco a Ripa, Piazza di S. Francesco d’Assisi 88

+39 (0)6 581 9020

3) Sarcophagus of the Spouses

A masterpiece from the Etruscan period, which very few bother to visit in this museum just outside the main tourist habitat. Dating back to the 6th century BC, the sarcophagus depicts a couple reclining merrily at a banquet in the afterlife. Excavated in Cerveteri in the 19th-century, it has beguiled art historians ever since.

Sarcophagus of the Spouses

at: National Etruscan Museum of Valle Giulia, Piazzale di Villa Giulia 9

+39 (0)6 322 6571


4) Boxer at Rest

A stunning example of bronze sculpture to survive Hellenism without being melted down, perhaps for its exceptional beauty and realism: this is not the triumphant victor, but the battered brute, with swollen cheeks, crooked nose, and open wounds. A must-see.

statue of the Boxer at rest

at: National Roman Museum, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme Largo Villa Peretti 2

+39 (0)6 3996 7700

5) Sculptures of Charity and Truth

During restoration work at the chapel in 2002, a discovery was made: the bronze drapery that clothed Truth and Charity was not part of Bernini’s design, but was added by sheepish priests in the 19th century. Provocatively, Bernini had sculpted them bare-breasted. The ‘brassieres’ have since been removed. Visits by appointment.

at: Cappella da Sylva, St Isidore's college, Via degli Artisti 41

+39 (0)6 488 5359


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