Being a tourist in Rome can be expensive. Hotels and restaurants exact their toll, and the cost of admission for two at state museums can run about 30 Euro ($40). So it's always nice to find places you can go--places both interesting and significant--without paying a dime. One of those places is Palazzo Barberini. It's conveniently located, just steps from the foot of via Veneto (and from Piazza Barberini), and important parts of it are accessible without paying for the museum (and numismatic society) it houses.
|Up these stairs to the Secret Garden|
|Be on the lookout for "bees"--the symbol of the Barberini family|
After taking in the facade, you can enter the building at its center. To the left you'll see Bernini's lovely staircase and, to the right, one of Borromini's greatest achievements, an oval (helicoidal, actually--you'll have to look that up) staircase.
In our view, it is Rome's most extraordinary staircase, rivaled only by the Luigi Moretti's modernist spiral masterpiece, hidden away at the back of the ex-GIL (youth center) in Trastevere--and also free.
|Il Giardino Segreto|
Climbing the gentle center stairs offers access to what is known as a "gardino segreto"--a secret garden, hidden from public view. Like the staircases, the garden is accessible at no charge.
|Weird stuff in the garden|
Poke around. There's some weird stuff in there.