Rome's Artists

This itinerary takes you to places where you can see the art of some of the most amazing artists in Italy, and most places are free, since they are churches, the only fee you pay is to turn the light on for a few minutes.

You don't have to go to all of the places, but it's worth it. The alternative is spending the whole day in the Vatican Museum or some other Museum.

And that is actually an option, you could break up the itinerary in two days, doing the part across the river on a separate day, starting with the Vatican museum really early and the rest in the afternoon.

Below you will find a brief explanation of who these artists are or where some of their works are. There are more, many more artists, but it would take 4 years of art history classes (which I failed in school) to cover them all. So you get the highlights. But these are worth it!


Michelangelo Buonarroti, (born in 1475, Caprese, [Italy]—died in 1564, Rome), Italian Renaissance sculptor, painter, architect, and poet who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art. He was a master at depicting the body with such technical accuracy that marble was seemingly transformed into flesh and bone. Michelangelo's influence on other artists was profound and has continued from Raphael in his time to Rubens, through to Bernini, and the last great sculptor to follow his tradition of realism, Rodin.

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Michelangelo designed the dome in St Peter's Basilica, and it's been the inspiration for many other churches around the world.For more information on his architectural work, go to:


This is one of the most famous statues by Michelangelo. The Pieta`. It's found in St Peter's Basilica, in a side chapel on the right as soon as you walk in the doors. You'll see the lines of people there. This was the first of a number of Pietàs Michelangelo worked on during his lifetime. It depicts the body of Jesus in the lap of his mother after the Crucifixion. For more info on Michelangelo's art, go to:


He also painted the Sistine Chapel, the most famous fresco in the world. In it he painted the Bible history of creation, Adam and Eve, sin and more. On the sides he painted Prophets and Seers and family members to Jesus. Since the restoration it has been brought back to the original dazzling colors. It eventually comprised some three hundred figures and took four years to execute. The wall behind the altar depicting the Universal Judgment was also painted by Michelangelo.This fresco covers the entire altar wall of the Sistine Chapel and is one of the last pieces that was commissioned by Pope Clement VII when Michelangelo was 62. In it we see the Second Coming of Christ as he delivers the Last Judgement. The monumental work took five years to complete and consists of over 300 individual figures. For more details, go to:


Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598 – 1680) was an Italian artist who was perhaps the greatest sculptor of the 17th century and an outstanding architect as well. Bernini created the Baroque style of sculpture and developed it to such an extent that other artists are of only minor importance in a discussion of that style. Bernini died at age 81, after having served eight popes, and when he died he was widely considered not only Europe’s greatest artist but also one of its greatest men. He was the last of Italy’s remarkable series of universal geniuses, and the Baroque style he helped create was the last Italian style to become an international standard. For more information go to:

The Angels for the Sant’Angelo Bridge in Rome. Pope Clement IX so prized the Angels carved by Bernini that they were never set up on the bridge and are now in the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte in Rome.

For the Chigi Chapel in the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome, he carved two groups, Daniel in the Lions’ Den and Habakkuk and the Angel.

The Fountain of the Four Rivers in Rome’s Piazza Navona (1648–51) supports an ancient Egyptian obelisk over a hollowed-out rock, surmounted by four marble figures symbolizing four major rivers of the world. This fountain is one of his most spectacular works.

The Triton Fountain in the Piazza Barberini is a dramatic transformation of a Roman architectonic fountain—the superposed basins of the traditional geometric piazza fountain appearing to have come alive. Four dolphins raise a huge shell supporting the sea god, who blows water upward out of a conch.

Bernini’s greatest architectural achievement is the colonnade enclosing the piazza before St. Peter’s Basilica. The chief function of the large space was to hold the crowd that gathered for the papal benediction on Easter and other special occasions. Bernini planned a huge oval attached to the church by a trapezoidal forecourt—forms that he compared to the encircling arms of the mother church. The freestanding colonnades were a novel solution to the need for a penetrable enclosure.

The bronze and gilded baldachin in St Peter Basilica was the first of Bernini's works to combine sculpture and architecture. The canopy rests upon four helical columns 66 feet high. Above this, four twice life size angels stand at the corners behind whom four large volutes rise up to a second smaller cornice which in turn supports the gilded cross on a sphere, a symbol of the world redeemed by Christianity. It was intended to mark, in a monumental way, the place of Saint Peter's tomb underneath.


The intensity of Caravaggio's paintings was matched only by his tempestuous lifestyle. Despite being a hot-headed, violent man often in trouble with the law and implicated in more than one murder, he created striking, innovative paintings and pioneered the use of dramatic lighting and the representation of religious figures in modern clothes and attitudes. Working from life and without the aid of preparatory sketches, Caravaggio paired close observation of his models with the use of strong beams of light to focus attention on certain elements of his images, contrasting these well-lit areas with dark shadows elsewhere on the canvas. This use of chiaroscuro became a core part of Caravaggio's highly individualized style and was widely imitated by his contemporaries. For more information, go to:

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