We visited the Capitoline Museums (both the Palazzo dei Conservatori and the Palazzo Nuovo) the second week of September 2012.. As noted in the other review the staff here aren't very helpful, but it's still worth a visit. This is the oldest museum in the world (1471). When we went they had a special exhibit (Lux in Arcana - a display of numerous "secret" papers from the Vatican) which took up a considerable number of rooms and required the relocation of certain pieces (such as the famous She Wolf) to other parts of the museum. This special exhibit was running only until the middle of September so the museum should be back to normal.
As noted by the previous reviewer there are many interesting pieces here, both inside the museums and outside in the court yards.
I would suggest the audio guides as there are many pieces numbered and they provide considerable information on what you are looking at. And be sure to pick up the brochure with the maps in them.
Some practical advice:
Standard metal detector and bag X-Ray, however you can take your belongings with you, no lockers needed.
Believe it or not you need to ask for the headphones, even though they don't work without them. We went into the first courtyard and turned on the audio device. Unlike other audio guides we had used (i.e. Vatican Museum, Borghese Gallery, etc.) there was no sound from either mine or my partners'. Then we noticed another couple who had headphones. We asked them (luckily they were English) where they got the headphones and they told us back at the ticket office where they got the audio guides. They too had to go back for the headphones!
So back we went and picked up the headphones. No apologies from the staff who failed to give them to us in the first place.
So back into the museum for the second time. We toured all three of the floors of the museum and my audio guide battery died. So it was back down to the ticket office for a replacement and we entered the museum again for the third time. Note there is a small button on the side of the audio guide which turns off power (like a sleep mode on computers). There's no explanation anywhere on how this works but use it in between exhibits and you should be OK battery wise.
We decided to have lunch at the Museum before going into the next building. The cafeteria is located on the third floor (well, really the 4th - more on that later) but all entrances to it from the museum have been blocked off! I stared at the map and could not figure out how to get there. Finally we asked one of the staff and she directed us to an elevator which is supposed to be used for handicapped visitors. It seems this was the only way to the cafeteria! I got us a couple of panini's and water while my partner got us a table outside. It was a beautiful day and the view from the terrace is breathtaking. When I came out with the lunch a waiter yelled at me that we couldn't eat outside because we had done "self service", and the tables outside were reserved for those who were being waited on. I did find a sign later stating that, but it probably should be put inside where you order the food (a completely different experience I won't bother detailing).
The underground tunnel:
After lunch we found our way back to the elevator and walked across the plaza to the other museum (Palazzo Nuovo). Just like the previous reviewer we couldn't find the entrance, only the exit. We asked the guard at the exit and he said the entrance was via the other building, but "underground". So, back into the museum for the 4th time (by now they weren't even screening us) Looking back at the map we found the entrance to be at the end of the "Tabularium" in the basement of the Palazzo dei Conservatori. You'll find a set of stairs which will bring you up into the Palazzo Nuovo. Note the Palazzo dei Conservatori has 5 floors, or "Etages". I'm not sure if it's just to add to the confusion or not but they are numbered (beginning at the bottom) as: -1, 0, 1, 2, and 3. So Etage 3 is really the 5th floor. Got it?
and the Palazzo Nuovo has three floors, -1, 0, and 1. Again, without the map you'll be lost.
Is it worth it? Yes. There are many fine pieces of art to be seen here. However, allow yourself at least 3-4 hours to see it all, including about 30 minutes of "wandering around lost".
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