See also Part 1.
Here come more exceptional museums nestled within the beauty of the land of art, Italy.
La Pinacoteca di Brera
Let's continue our journey of Italian museums with a trip to the heart of the Italy of finance and fashion: the city of Milan. Here we find the Pinacoteca di Brera, a former convent from the 1300s. This museum contains a rich collection of paintings and is also the home of the Lombard Institute of Sciences and Letters, the Astronomic Observatory, the Fine Arts Academy, a Botanical Garden and, of course, a splendid library. One of the most famous paintings exhibited at the Pinacoteca is Gentile Bellini's Madonna with Child (Madonna col Bambino). The collection here includes Raffaello, Rembrandt and Rubens, making for a very interesting museum, where old finds new in exquisitely.
Il Museo archeologico nazionale di Napoli
For many years Naples was the true art capital of the world and today it still houses some remarkable masterpieces. The National Archaeological Museum of Naples (Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli) is very famous for its ancient Greek and Roman art. These items came from the historical sites in and around Naples, especially from Pompeii, which is one of the richest supplier of Roman antiques, thanks to the "protection" offered by layers and layers of ash.
Artifacts, coins and art make this museum very important, but another element that attracts visitors every day is the presence of some of the most amazing mosaics ever put together, including the very famous House of the Faun mosaic from Pompeii: as an FYI, that is where we all know the face of Alexander the Great. There is also a very exclusive and interesting "X-Rated" collection made of sex items collected from Pompeii and apparently used by the Romans. These items serve to remind us that modern sexual and social freedoms weren't invented by our society.
As we are in Naples, let's continue to the Santa Chiara Monastery, whose cloister is by far one of the most beautiful in the world, featuring gorgeous majolica-tiled columns. The monastery is a true haven in the middle of the bustling city. The museum is not very large, but is very interesting and filled with religious items, as well as art pieces and antiquities from the first four centuries after Christ. One of the most impressive items here is a 18th century nativity scene (presepio), very important in Neapolitan tradition, as it is here that the best nativity artists are traditionally concentrated.
Museo e Galleria Borghese
To conclude our virtual trip through the museums in Italy, we shall go back to Rome to visit one of the city's best museums, located in the heart or Rome's Villa Borghese park. You may recognize the Museo Borghese as the one featured in Ocean's Twelve. The park alone is worth a trip, but aside from natural beauty in the museum you can also find some great work from Bernini, the man behind most of the statues and fountains around Rome. The actual building is dated 1616 and it took about three years to be completed. Originally, the museum was site of social gatherings and private exhibits for the Borghese family. The relationship between the Borgheses and Bernini was actually very strong, and the family often commissioned many of his works, which is why many of the artist's pieces – including the impressive Rape of Proserpina and Apollo and Daphne – are now featured in the museum. Bernini used marble as if it were a malleable material, moulding it as soft clay to a unique effect. Another Italian genius exhibited at the museum is Canova. If you're in Rome this museum is definitely a must see.
In Italy, it sometimes feels like there is a museum on every corner, both inside and outside. These museums, both large and small, hold priceless works of art that tell the story of a land and its people, stretching back for millennia.