Commissioned to celebrate the Barberini family’s rise to papal power, Palazzo Barberini is a sumptuous baroque palace that impresses even before you clap eyes on the breathtaking art. Many high-profile architects worked on it, including rivals Bernini and Borromini; the former contributed a large squared staircase, the latter a helicoidal one. Amid the masterpieces, don’t miss Pietro da Cortona’s Il Trionfo della Divina Provvidenza (Triumph of Divine Providence; 1632–39), the most spectacular of the palazzo’s ceiling frescoes in the 1st-floor main salon.
Other must-sees include Hans Holbein’s famous portrait of a pugnacious Henry VIII (c 1540); Filippo Lippi’s luminous Annunciazione e due devoti (Annunciation with two Kneeling Donors); and Raphael’s La Fornarina (The Baker’s Girl), a portrait of his mistress who worked in a bakery in Trastevere. Works by Caravaggio include San Francesco d’Assisi in meditazione (St Francis in Meditation), Narciso (Narcissus; 1571–1610) and the mesmerisingly horrific Giuditta e Oloferne (Judith Beheading Holophernes; c 1597–1600).