Ara Pacis, Rome
Piazza del Popolo
Tel: 39 06 8205 9127
Concierge.com's insider take:
Romans are terribly protective of their historic cityscape, and U.S. architect Richard Meier's brand-new museum housing the first-century A.D. Ara Pacis (Altar of Peace) was a battleground from day one. The museum was the first building to go up in the centro storico since World War II; Meier was given the commission by fans on the city council, not by way of a public contest; and he came up with a design that Romans either love or hate. Shiny white with acres of glass, it's definitely more of a statement than the little Fascist-era box that previously contained the beautiful Augustan altar with its delicately carved friezes. Meier's museum gives this exquisite work the breathing space it lacked before: Finally, visitors can stand back and admire the lower frieze of swirling acanthus leaves and, above, the delicately carved, wind-blown drapery in the togas and cloaks of Augustus and his family as they join a procession to mark the inauguration of the Ara Pacis itself.
Open Tuesdays through Sundays 9 am to 7 pm.