Where to Find Caravaggio's Art In Italy

The Incredulity of St. Thomas by Caravaggio
The Incredulity of St. Thomas by Caravaggio | Wikimedia Commons
Ione Wang

Most painters of his time showed the airy world of aristocratic fantasies, but Caravaggio was interested in something different. He was the painter of the dark, dirty underworld of the urban poor. Where others were painting nymphs and noblemen, he was painting the people of the backstreets, gambling corners and cheap taverns. These were the places he was familiar with as a boy who came from a village near Bergamo to make his fortune in Rome. Erratic and unpredictable, prone to bouts of violence, he fled Rome after killing a man in a brawl. The last years of his short life found him on the run across southern Italy, painting for the few patrons he found in between bouts of imprisonment and begging for a papal pardon.

Loved by over 40s


The Contarelli Chapel of the church of San Luigi dei Francesi is just a few steps away from Piazza Navona. Inside, you’ll find an extraordinary cycle of paintings about the life of Saint Matthew, the tax collector who was called on to follow Jesus. He transposes this Biblical story onto his contemporary world, making for a striking sense of immediacy.

Another church where you’ll find his work in situ is the Cerasi Chapel in Santa Maria del Popolo. Caravaggio’s The Conversion of St Paul and The Crucifixion of St Peter caused a scandal when they were unveiled. His patrons were shocked that their sacred place would be decorated with a painting in which much of the canvas depicted the backside of an enormous horse. It was a daring move from a brilliant mind unconstrained by art world mores and visual cliches.

The Conversion of St. Paul

At the Cavalletti Chapel, he pushed the limits yet again. He painted a Madonna with child, with two pilgrims kneeling before them. The subject is traditional enough, but he chose deliberately to depict the devotees as poor people – the kind of people who are not shown in paintings, with rough hands and dirty feet pointed out directly at the viewer. At Palazzo Barberini, you’ll see a gorgeously simple painting of Narcissus, a striking St Francis in Meditation and his stunning version of Judith Beheading Holofernes.

Judith Beheading Holofernes

Last but certainly not least, you have the Galleria Borghese, a museum not to be missed for any art lover visiting Rome. You’ll find three of his most important works here, including an early painting of Bacchus and a late work of David with the Head of Goliath, which is a plea for papal mercy sent from exile in Malta.


Here in Caravaggio’s place of exile, you’ll find the gorgeous Flagellation of Christ at the Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte. The painting is at the end of a long corridor in a room by itself. It’s incredibly striking, with half of the canvas in darkness, making for a stunning contrast between the brightness of the flesh of Christ and his torturers and the darkness of the deed.

The Flagellation of Christ

At the Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano, you’ll find the dark, brooding painting of The Martyrdom of Saint Orseola, the last known painting he completed before his death. And in Pio Monte della Misericordia, located in Napoli’s historic center, there is the painting called The Seven Works of Mercy, commissioned by a charitable brotherhood who wanted him to show seven acts of kindness in Catholicism, which include burying the dead, feeding the hungry, visiting the imprisoned, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and giving water to the thirsty.


The Beheading of St. John the Baptist

Caravaggio spent the last few years of his life in Malta, paranoid and on the run. Wanted for murder, he was hounded by the forces of justice. Here, he painted The Beheading of St. John the Baptist for the Oratory of the Co-Cathedral of St. John in Valletta. In an alleyway, a small crowd gathers around John the Baptist. A man presses John’s face to the ground, as another woman prepares the basin for his head. From a window, two faces watch the scene. The painting, like all of his work, is immediate, intimate and forceful – and a moving expression of the gritty, violent and poverty-ridden world that he inhabited.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.


Keen to explore the world?

Our passionately curated premium small-group trips are an invitation to connect with like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences.