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The itinerary of the Capitoline Museums takes you through all three of the palaces in the square, and I suggest setting aside a few hours: remember that ancient sculptures have been collected and exhibited in Campidoglio since the 1400s! The collections are mostly dedicated to classical sculpture, but you'll also see magnificent Renaissance and Baroque halls, grandiose statues of the popes, a rich art gallery, the incredibly suggestive passage along the arches of the Tabularium with a view of the Forum, and can then end your tour perfectly with a wonderful drink out in the open, weather permitting, in the coffee shop that offers an incomparable panoramic terrace where the entire Eternal City spreads out below you.

In all this abundance, let me suggest a few pieces you absolutely can't miss: a few classic sculptures, the extraordinary Marcus Aurelius, and the Art Gallery.

Among the ancient sculptures I especially recommend the Lupa Capitolina, or Capitoline Wolf, one of the most famous symbols of ancient Rome. According to tradition, Romulus and Remus were two twins that were born of the union between the god Mars and the priestess Rea Silvia. Abandoned after birth, the legend says that they were suckled by a wolf and then adopted by a peasant family. Later, Romulus founded the city of Rome in 753 BC, on the day that is still considered the "Christmas of Rome", April 21st. Just think, this magnificent bronze wolf is about 2500 years old! The twins, also in bronze, were added many centuries later during the Renaissance.

I'd like to point out two more famous bronze masterpieces near the Lupa Capitolina. One is called Capitoline Brutus and is dated between the second and the first century BC; it is a beautiful portrait of a man with a proud, dignified look. The other masterpiece is one of the world's most famous and imitated statues and is called Spinario, or Boy with Thorn: it depicts a little boy sitting on a rock, taking a thorn from his foot. Admire his spontaneous and elegant pose, as well as the skill which with the sculptor was able to shape the still soft and immature body of the teenager.

I'd also like to point out the marble statue Esquiline Venus from the first century BC; it is the delicate figure of a young woman who some scholars believe to be a portrait of Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt.


FUN FACT: if you look carefully at the Lupa Capitolina, you can see that it has a defect in the back legs; in fact, it was said to have been hit by lightning. In ancient Rome, every statue that was hit by lightning became sacred, and could no longer be seen. That's why the Lupa was removed, and reappeared only in the Middle Ages.

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