The only part of Palazzo Colonna open to the public, this opulent 17th-century gallery houses the Colonna family’s private art collection. It’s not the capital’s largest collection but with works by Salvatore Rosa, Guido Reni, Guercino and Annibale Carracci, it’s well worth the ticket price (which includes an optional guided tour in English at noon).
The gallery’s six rooms are crowned by glorious ceiling frescoes, all dedicated to Marcantonio Colonna, the family’s greatest ancestor, who defeated the Turks at the naval Battle of Lepanto in 1571. Works by Giovanni Coli and Filippo Gherardi in the Great Hall, Sebastiano Ricci in the Landscapes Room and Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari in the Throne Room commemorate his efforts. Of the paintings on display, Annibale Carracci’s Mangiafagioli (The Bean Eater) is generally considered the outstanding masterpiece. Note also the cannonball lodged in the gallery’s marble stairs, a vivid reminder of the 1849 siege of Rome. Another wing includes the sumptuous Chapel Hall and the rich 17th-century Artemisia tapestries collection. From May to October a terrace cafe is open.