The guided tours of this opulent palace are among the city's best, introducing visitors to the residence and art collection of the patrician Colonna family. The largest private palace in Rome, it has a formal garden, multiple reception rooms and a grandiose baroque Great Hall built to honour Marcantonio II Colonna, a hero of the 1571 Battle of Lepanto. Guides recount plenty of anecdotes about family members including fascinating Maria Mancini Mazzarino, a feisty favourite of Louis XIV of France.
The ceiling frescoes in the Great Hall, Hall of the Battle Column and Hall of the Landscapes are dedicated to Marcantonio II but are of minor artistic importance. However, other salons are home to major works including Annibale Carracci’s remarkably modern-looking Mangiafagioli (The Bean Eater), which dates from 1580–90, and Bronzino's sensual Venus, Cupid and a Satyr (1554). There are also works by Tintoretto, del Sarto and Veronese. In the Great Hall, which was used as a set in William Wyler's 1953 film Roman Holiday (the press conference was filmed here), a cannonball is lodged in the gallery’s marble stairs, a vivid reminder of the 1849 siege of Rome.
Combination tickets (€20 to €30) allow you to extend your visit and see both the garden and the wing known as the Princess Isabelle Apartment, named after Beirut-born Isabelle Colonna, née Sursock, who married into the family in 1908. Both of these tours are of lesser interest than the main tour.