The collection of ancient art in the Capitoline Museums is breathtaking. Even if sculptures have never before moved you, a visit to these rooms and hallways will convert you. An hour spent here is like an education in the aesthetic potential of the human body and the skill and poetry of truly great sculpture.
The museums dates back to the 15th century, and were a popular stop-off for the Grand Tour. Here you will stumble across the Boy with a Thorn in his Foot, the Dying Gaul, the Capitoline She-Wolf, an Etruscan bronze suckling Romulus and Remus (later additions), the original bronze equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius (the one outside is a replica), fragments of a truly gigantic statue of the Emperor Constantine. The famous Capitoline Venus strives ineffectually to preserve her modesty in a small antechamber; a roomful of Caesars glare balefully at the visitor; and busts of philosophers are lined on shelves.
The museums are housed in two palazzi, connected by an underground passageway, where you can see some remains of the ancient temples that once stood here, on the Capitol, and admire a view over the Forum. A rooftop terrace cafe offers sustenance and good views. There are usually temporary exhibitions housed in the main palazzo.