Rome Parks and Gardens
(Rome, Lazio, Italy)
The once private gardens and parks of Rome clearly demonstrate the sheer wealth of the city's former nobility and provide important green spaces amidst the chaos of the city centre. The Parco Torlonia stands right in the heart of the action, being close to both the Basilica di San Clemente and the campus of the Universita Degli Studi Di Roma La Sapienza (Sapienza University of Rome).
Head just under 15 minutes to the north, passing by the Teatro dell'Opera, and you will reach the magnificent Villa Borghese. The word 'villa' literally translates as 'suburban estate' - the type developed by the ancient Romans and enjoyed by the wealthy.
If you have allowed time for a day trip, then perhaps the Park of the Monsters at Bomarzo may appeal, with its indulgent sculptures dating all the way back to the 16th century and including the winged horse Pegasus, a dragon being attacked by dogs, Hannibal's elephant, a bear and even a whale.
Situated high up on Janiculum hill, one of the seven hills of ancient Rome, this park affords spectacular views of the city and buildings below. There are also many attractions for the young at heart at the Gianicolo, such as pony rides, bumper cars, Punch and Judy puppet shows, and countless other games.
Address: Via delle Tre Fontane, Rome
This amusement theme park is the only place in the whole city where you will find large fairground rides, amusements, a roller coaster, a haunted house, a Ferris wheel and many other similar attractions. This is a popular spot for fun and thrills galore.
Open hours: daily- Monday to Friday 15:00 to 20:00, Saturday - 15:00 to 01:00, Sunday - 10:00 to 13:00 and 15:00 to 22:00
Admission: free, charge for rides
North of Rome city centre, Villa Borghese is a huge park that was part of the pleasure gardens originally laid out in the 17th century by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew to Pope Paul V. These days the gardens have changed dramatically and are now completely redesigned, appearing less formal and more natural. Villa Borghese has many outstanding features, including:
- Galleria Borghese Museum - beautifully restored and home to a wonderful collection of art
- Piazzo di Siena - a graceful amphitheatre
- Botanical garden on Via Canonica - including a lake, neoclassical Temple of Aesculapius and café
- Giardino Zoologico - a small biopark zoo, with many animals and often face-painting at the weekends
- Bike and roller-skate rental concessions
- Children's movie theatre
At the Viale delle Belle entrance, there is a children's train, playground with swings, paddle boats and even pony rides, making this an ideal and enjoyable place for the family.
The beautiful grounds of the Villa Ada are located just north of Rome and are both an ideal place to relax on a bench and enjoy the sunshine. Alternatively, visitors often like to participate in the many activities that are available, such as the roller-skating rink, bike paths and playgrounds. If you are not feeling quite that energetic, then you can always sit by the ponds and simply enjoy the pleasant surroundings.
Villa Torlonia / Parco Torlonia
This centrally located public park was once the residence of Italy's notorious president Mussolini and was neglected for many years until recently being given some much needed attention and restoration, together with the buildings. The resident Museo della Casina delle Civette (Museum of the House of Owls) has recently been fully restored and now proudly displays majolica and stained-glass decorations, including windows with owl motifs, which is where its name originates.
Bomarzo Gardens / Parco dei Monsti
Situated 12 miles / 19 km east of Viterbo and roughly 100 km / 62 miles north of Rome, the 16th-century Parco dei Monsti (Monster Park) is full of wacky architectural features and weird and wonderful sculptures of mythical creatures. The eccentric Prince Vicino Orsini created the park for his wife and it is widely believed that she took one look at the finished park and died of heart failure, as she was so shocked by his rather outlandish creation! There are endless photo opportunities, with many sculptures carved out of stone in interesting outcrops in a wooded area on the estate. The Castle of Bomarzo is also well worth a look if you are in the area.