Pietro Canonica was an aristocratic sculptor and academic who was born near Turin in 1869 and was much feted by the wealthy of Europe for his fine sculptural portraits of royalty and nobility. He eventually settled in a fortress-style villa tucked away among the gardens of Rome’s Parco Borghese, and there he lived until his death in 1959. Today this is a museum often overlooked for the better-known charms of the Galleria Borghese nearby, but it actually contains a stellar display of Canonica’s work displayed against a backdrop of luxurious splendor. His workshop is on view as well as exquisite bronze and marble statues of his sitters and a vast array of sketches and preparatory drawings. Upstairs it is possible to explore his sumptuous private apartments, furnished with gleaming antiques, Flemish tapestries and a fine collection of paintings by 19th-century Italian artists such as Giovanni Battista Quadrone and Vittorio Cavalleri.
The museum can also be visited as part of Segway and bike tours around the Parco Borghese, where attractions include the art collections of the Galleria Borghese, the Silvano Toti Globe Theatre, the Bioparco zoo, and the Pincio Gardens. It’s also close to the Spanish Steps.
Viale Pietro Canonica, 2, Villa Borghese, Rome. Open June–Sept Tue–Sun 1pm–7pm; Oct–May 10am–4pm. Admission free. Access is on foot across the Parco Borghese. There’s car parking on Largo Picasso a few minutes’ walk away. The nearest Metro station is Line A at Flaminio; the nearest bus stop is at Piazzale Brasile.