Rome is one of the greenest cities in Europe thanks to the many parks and landscaped gardens created by Italy’s aristocratic families. The parks in Rome often feature stunning villas and offer a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city. They are great for outdoor lovers and those wanting a breather from exploring the city.
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Gardens and parks in Rome
While it might seem that Rome is filled with Roman ruins, piazzas and buildings, there are many gardens and outdoor spaces to visit. Here are 10 parks in Rome to add to your itinerary.
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Aqueduct Park (Parco degli Acquedotti)
Out of all the parks in Rome, Aqueduct Park is the one you have seen in many Italian films. With views of ancient aqueducts and Roman pine trees, it is part of the regional park of the ancient Appian Way. The park is named after the seven aqueducts – Anio Vetus, Marcia, Iulia, Tepula, Felice, Anio Novus and Claudio – that are used to provide water to the city.
The park stretches for nearly 600 acres (about 240 hectares) between the Appio Claudio district, via delle Capannelle and the Rome-Cassino-Naples railway line. It’s a popular spot for biking, running and outdoor sports.
Botanical Garden (Orto Botanico)
In the popular area of Trastevere, nestles on the Gianicolo hill lies a slice of nature. The Botanical Garden was officially established in 1883. Stretching over 29 acres (12 hectares) is an oasis in the heart of the city.
There are over 3,000 plants here, including a bamboo forest, a rose garden and a Japanese garden. You can also marvel at the numerous species of orchids, bonsai and cacti plants housed in four greenhouses.
The garden, located behind 17th-century Palazzo Corsini, is also an archeological area. Among the greenery, you’ll find several ancient fountains that hint at the past. Once the location fo the Septimius Severus Baths, today, the garden is owned and maintained by the Sapienza University of Rome.
Orange Garden (Giardino degli Aranci)
This small gated garden on the top of Aventine Hill is named after the orange trees planted here by St. Domenico in 1222. He also founded the Basilica of Saint Sabina next door to the garden.
The Orange Garden offers excellent panoramic views of Rome and the Janiculum Hill. It’s also a great place to take a break from exploring the city. The land here was once a fortress built by the Savelli family. However, it was demolished in 1613. What you see today was designed by Raffaele De Vico in 1932.
Most people visiting Rome head to the Vatican to admire the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica. What many don’t know is that away from the crowds lie the charming Vatican Gardens. The gardens date back to 1279. It was then that Pope Nicholas III relocated the papal residence to the Vatican from the Lateran Palace.
Today, you can explore the gardens’ numerous fountains, multiple landscaped terraces and even catch a glimpse of Michelangelo’s dome. The gardens are open to the public only in June, July and August. Admission is limited so make sure you book your tickets ahead of time.
Villa Ada is one of the largest parks in Rome. The property belonged to the royal House of Savoy during the latter half of the 19th century. In 1878, it was sold to the Swiss Count Tellfner, who named it after his wife, Ada. The royal family repurchased the property in 1904 and retained it until 1946.
What was once a private estate of King Vittorio Emanuele III was eventually acquired by the city, excluding a small portion in private ownership. Today, the private section is owned by the Egyptian Embassy.
This massive outdoor space is filled with paths, lakes, woods and lawns. It’s a popular spot for the locals and is home to the Roma Incontro il Mondo summer festival.
What once belonged to the wealthy Borghese family is one of the most popular parks in Rome. The garden and the villa were designed for Cardinal Scipione Borghese in 1605 and sold by the family to 1901. Today, Villa Borghese houses the Galleria Borghese museum with an impressive art collection, including works by Italian masters.
The park’s 200 acres (81 hectares) offer an artistic blend of greenery, lakes, fountains, statues and monuments. Check out the Pincio terrace for panoramic views of the city and the Piazza del Popolo just below. Some of the attractions you will find here include a horse track in Piazza di Sienna and the Rome Zoo (Bioparco) with more than 1,000 animals.
Villa Borghese is also where you can find the Silvano Toti Globe Theatre, a replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. You can also rent a boat and take a spin on the small lake (laghetto) or check out the Pincio’s Water Clock, a great example of 19th-century engineering.
Like many other parks in Rome, the Villa Celimontana park was once home to the wealthy Mattei family. The family bought that land 1553 and built a villa that was then surrounded by a beautiful garden. Michelangelo’s student, Giacomo del Duca, designed the estate in the most refined 16th-century style. Today it is home to the Italian Geographical Society.
Here you’ll find artistic fountains, a neo-gothic temple as well as an obelisk dedicated to Egyptian pharaoh Rameses II. The stunning landscapes and charm, Villa Celimontana, is a popular destination for wedding photos. During the summer months, the park home to art exhibitions, special events and evening jazz concerts.
Villa Doria Pamphili
The Villa Doria Pamphili is recognized as one of the most important historical parks in Rome. It is also the largest. It once belonged to the wealthy Pamphili family until it passed to the Doria family through marriage. The property spans over 207 acres (184 hectares) of landscaped areas and features a 17th-century villa.
While you can’t visit the villa, you can enjoy the landscaped gardens that surround it. The park is quiet and offers a nice escape from the busy streets of Rome. While not as popular among tourists, it’s a great place to enjoy the greenery and fresh air. There is also a picturesque lake, an unmissable spot in the park.
Additional thoughts about parks in Rome
In addition to the above-named gardens and parks in Rome, there are numerous green areas and spots in the city to enjoy. As much as the Romans loved building up Rome with monuments, villas and temples, they also enjoyed outdoor spaces.
That concept carried on, with various popes and noble families creating and beautifying Rome’s outdoor spaces. Thanks to them, the city if full of beautiful gardens and parks we can all enjoy today. Next time you visit, make sure to take a break in one of the many parks in Rome and enjoy the outdoors.
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