Day Tour

Bernini & Borromini, the Battle Over Baroque Glory (3 Hours)

Context Travel

Rome, Italy

Valid for Travel Now Through: 02 Mar 2019

Bernini & Borromini, the Battle Over Baroque Glory (3 Hours )

Rome, Italy

Tour Features


  • Culture, History & Arts
  • Sightseeing
  • Walking & Biking



Recommended Ages

12 and Above

Activity Level



In the mid 1600s two artists appeared on the Roman art scene, each possessing a particular genius attune to the Baroque movement that would eventually sweep Europe. During this three-hour tour of Rome's Quirinale neighborhood, we will look closely at Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Francesco Borromini, their respective architectural styles, and their buildings that shaped the city's aesthetic by reflecting the aims and priorities of the Counter Reformation.

Our walk begins on Via del Quirinale, where two masterworks by Bernini and Borromini stand nearly side by side: Bernini's Sant'Andrea al Quirinale and Borromini's stunning San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane. Both churches exemplify fundamental ideas of the Baroque, and our discussion here will include an in-depth introduction to this period and the artistic ideas that fueled it. We will also consider the political and religious motives of Early Modern Rome, including the development of the Reformation and Counter Reformation, and how the latter informed a very specific artistic program. Our docent, a trained art historian, will help us explore some of the finer points of the Baroque style.

As we continue on to Santa Maria della Vittoria to view Bernini's magnificent Ecstasy of St. Teresa, we will focus on the biographies of the two artists, whose lives contrasted as much as their art. While Bernini ran a successful workshop, was politically connected, and churned out a staggering array of works for multiple popes and powerful Roman families, Borromini was more solitary and tortured, eventually committing suicide after building only a few extraordinary structures.

Our walk ends at the Palazzo Barberini, built for the extravagant Pope Urban VIII. Although Bernini and Borromini each contributed to the palace's architecture, the real treasure is found inside on the ceiling of the main salon where Pietro da Cortona painted his masterful fresco of Divine Providence. Meant to glorify the pope and the Barberini family, Cortona's use of illusionism exemplifies the dramatic and theatrical nature of the Baroque aesthetic. Viewing this ceiling, as well as other works in the museum's collection (including two early works by Caravaggio), will help us contextualize the work of Bernini and Borromini. At the conclusion of our time together, we will have a stronger grasp of the key principles of art and architecture during the Baroque era, as well as this style's wide influence in Rome and beyond.

About Us

The Context vision is to create an atmosphere—a context, if you will—for curious travelers to engage with local experts; to give them access to places and cultures that might otherwise remain out of sight to the casual visitor; to invite them off the tourist track and into the real life of the people, history, and heritage that make these cultural capitals amazing. With no more than six people, you'll participate in an intimate, hands-on, conversational experience. No Tour Guides - Our docents are first and foremost scholars or specialists, with MAs, Ph.D.s, or other terminal degrees in their fields of study.

Insider Tip

Contact your Virtuoso Travel Advisor for insider knowledge to help enhance your experience.

Terms & Conditions

Context walks can be cancelled up to 48 hours prior to the walk with an 85% refund. Within 48 hours all reservations are final and cannot be refunded. Walks are held rain or shine with some variations to accommodate the weather. If you are running late for your meeting with our docent, we ask that you call to alert us so that we can relay the message to the docent. No shows are treated as last-minute cancellations and are non-refundable. Cancellations within three business days need to be made by phone to the emergency number provided in your confirmation email. Cancellations within three business days made via email or by calling our U.S. 800 number may not be honored. Other terms and conditions may apply.

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Italy trip

By: Joe C

Reviewed on: 27 Jun 2018

Without question they did a superb job.
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"The Great European Tour"

By: MJ

Reviewed on: 14 Aug 2018

The trip was our first experience with Context and it was amazing!
Travel Advisor:  Donna Peacock
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By: Shari

Reviewed on: 17 Nov 2018

The 6 person maximum of Context tours really made for an intimate learning experience. The docents they get to lead the groups were top notch!
Travel Advisor:  Kelly Millington