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Arts / Museums

Rome Enters the Selfie Age

Instagram Adventures Among the World’s Great Plazas and Palaces

BY Mary Margaret Hansen // 07.11.16

This is the third installment of photographer and activist Mary Margaret Hansen‘s travel diary as she and fellow artist Earl Staley bask in an Italian sojourn. Read the first story here, and the second installment here.

Three years ago, Earl and I visited Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, and I was smitten. Minutes after entering this magnificent 17thcentury Roman palace, I was captivated by the elaborately painted ceilings in the four salons that hold the family’s famous picture galleries. Exquisite hand-painted grotesqueries span the ceilings and continue down the sides of shuttered windows to terra cotta floors. Each salon has a bevy of marble portrait busts and chairs gilded with gold and upholstered with Genoese velvet.

As I entered the salons, I hardly noticed the paintings or the busts. Even the most treasured painting in the collection, Velasquez’s famous portrait of the Pamphilj family pope, Innocent X, I appreciated in haste. My eyes kept straying toward the ceilings.

The signage in the Pamphilj was quite clear: No Photos. Surveillance cameras were placed high in every corner and suited guards walked back and forth along the length of each salon. Palazzo Doria Pamphilj made it clear it would not allow photos. Thus, I kept circling the four connecting salons, eyes always upward, as I attempted to memorize what I was seeing.

So, imagine the joy I felt two days ago when Earl asked at the ticket booth if photos were allowed. The answer was a simple, “Yes. No flash.”

Then I noticed new signage: See Doria Pamphilj on Instagram. I was amazed.

Palazzo Doria Pamphilj is now a part of selfie culture.

This palazzo is filled with so much of one Roman family’s fascinating history, and I’ve not touched on it at all in this post. For a recent update on the Doria Pamphilj family, click here.

My photographs (see slideshow at top of story) show what I love about this grand palace.

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