THE GREAT RENAISSANCE painter and architect Raphael Sanzio lived and died in a period when Italy was relatively free of epidemics. It took the 21st-century Coronavirus pandemic to disrupt a monumental exhibition in Rome mounted to mark the 500th anniversary of his death.
The exhibit opened in March and closed down after only three days, given the Covid-19 catastrophe that engulfed Italy. Now the show, at the Scuderie del Quirinale (usually known in English as the Papal Stables), has reopened and will run through August 30. Hours have been extended, starting today, from 8am until 11 at night on weeknights. On Fridays and Saturdays it will be open till 1 in the morning. But what was almost guaranteed to be a blockbuster will be a much quieter, and safer, affair, with only six to eight masked visitors allowed to enter the exhibit hall every five minutes. The tours will be guided, with five minutes allotted to each of the rooms.
Given the extreme unlikelihood of most of us being able to attend in person, I was happy to find a video that walks us through the exhibition on the Quirinale, the highest of Rome’s seven hills. At this writing, tickets do seem to be available online, so if the stars align and you think you will find yourself in the Eternal City before the end of August, you may benefit from this show of more than 200 works, borrowed from collections and museums all over the world.
Raffaello 1520-1483, Scuderie del Quirinale, via Ventiquattro Maggio 16, Rome. 15 euros, through August 30, 2020.