Raffaello: 12 years in the Eternal City

Among the several artists in Rome over the centuries, we can't miss Raffaello, who lived there for 12 years. During this time, he made many works still visible in some churches and museums. Let's discover them.

Raffaello in Rome: his life
Born in Urbino in 1483, by a family of artists, Raffaello Sanzio - commonly known as Raffaello - was appreciated as a great painter till his early youth, becoming one of the most important artist of the Italian Renaissance. His education was influenced by Perugino, but he soon found his personal and original style. His fame increased so much that important representatives of Church and nobility asked him to decorate their private residences and churches. During his youth, he worked in Siena, Florence, Perugia, and Milan, but he probably had his best period in Rome. In 1508, Julius II became Pope, and his desire was to make Rome the heart of culture. For this reason, he invited several very famous artists, such as Donato Bramante and Michelangelo. Bramante himself suggested the Pope to invite Raffaello, who was working in Florence, at the time. Also Francesco Maria Della Rovere recommended him to the Pope, as he had already proposed him some jobs in Florence, too. Proud of it, Raffaello left Florence without having completed his job, and moved to Rome to begin his cooperation with the most important artists of the time.
The first job was to decorate the vault of one of the papal apartments' room. The Pope liked the sketches so much he decide to entrusted Raffaello with the whole apartment decoration, allowing him to eliminate the previous one, such as some Piero della Francesca's frescoes from 1400. It is the beginning of his apotheosis: in just a few years, Raffaello became so famous he was contacted by the noblest families in Rome, ready to do anything to have his own painting. Five years after his arrival, he started up the largest painting workshop of all time in the city, to cope with the ever-increasing demands. Probably, extremely exhausted by the numerous requests and by the wild life he was running, Raffaello got affected by a sudden illness at the end of March, in 1520. He died a few days later, on April 6th, when he was just 37 years old. His body is buried in the Pantheon in Rome, as he requested. His grave has never been moved from there over the centuries.

In the Roman years, Raffaello made some works of great importance that changed the history of Italian art. To see all of them you would need at least one month, but we can make a selection of the most important ones. One of its first jobs, considered a masterpiece of his art, is the Room of the Signature, decorated by his frescoes, in the papal apartments, the Room of Eliodoro, and the Room of the Village Fire. They are just some of his works, anticipating Mannerism. It surely was Raffaello' springboard, as from that moment on, many Church representatives entrusted him with several jobs. The chapel of Palazzo Chigi can definitely be considered one of his masterpieces. It also realised the architectural project of Alberini Palace and Palazzo Jacopo da Brescia, where he made some frescoes. In 1518, he was entrusted with the architectural plan of Villa Madama: it is the most typical example of Renaissance architecture. He then replaced Bramante in the design of the Vatican Lodges decorations. But St. Peter's Basilica surely is the best work he made. Also in this case, he replaced Bramante, and he approached the work scared he was not able to be worth of Bramante.

Planning a tour of all the masterpieces by Raffaello in Rome is very hard, because there are so many places he visited. So it is very important to plan it in advance in order to get the best of it. You can see the frescoes of the Roman period reserving a tour in the Papal apartments, in the Vatican City; you can combine it with a tour of the Basilica - it is inside the Vatican CIty -, as Raffaello remarkably took part to its realisation. In the Vatican Pinacoteca there are some other paintings by Raffaello, such as some parts of the Pala Baglioni. Another Roman Museum nearby, the Doria Pamphilj Museum, hosts an example of Raffaellian portraiture: the faces of Andrea Navagero and Agostino Beazzano. In the Galleria Borghese Museum, you can see one of the most famous works the Lady and the Unicorn, perhaps one of the most famous shots in the world. In the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, in the beautiful Piazza del Popolo, Raffaello distinctive features as architect can be admired in the architecture of the Chigi Chapel. Finally, you can't miss a visit of the Pantheon, to pay homage to his grave.

Do you want to stay in Rome?

For this location we recommend The Inn At The Roman Forum, a luxury residence in the center of Rome with a modern design.

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