Visitors to Rome are privileged enough to be able to see no less than six stunning Caravaggios in their original settings, completely free.
Born in 1571 in Milan, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was a groundbreaking renaissance painter who pioneered use of the chiaroscuro (light/dark) technique, and the use of real models he’d chosen from ‘the street’.
His unorthodox painting choices – as revolutionary at the time as Picasso was in the 20th Century – and his scandalous lifestyle generated a huge amount of notoriety which probably enhanced his popularity rather than damaged it, but it was this boisterousness that eventually cut his life short: he died in 1610 while returning to Rome to beg forgiveness for killing a man in a brawl there in 1606, an act which had caused him to flee the city.
Despite the scandals that surrounded him, the paintings he was commissioned to paint were almost exclusively religious, and were usually commissioned by rich families for their private chapels within the churches of Rome, Naples, Malta and Sicily.
Three churches in the historic centre of Rome still preserve Caravaggios in their original setting, and it costs nothing to view them. They’re also within walking distance of each other – less than a mile apart in a fascinating ancient part of the city.
Other Caravaggios in Rome can be seen by buying tickets to the the Galeria Borghese, the Vatican Museums, the Capitoline Museums, the Palazzo Corsini, the Galeria Doria Paphilj, and most memorably to this author, Judith Beheading Holofernes is housed with other examples of his work in the Palazzo Barberini.