Villa Borghese and the other must-see parks of Rome
What’s heart-shaped, close to at least three subway stops, hosts one open-air theatre, three museums (and then some!) and is loved by visitors from the world over? It’s the park at Villa Borghese! Travellers in Rome enjoy particularly the area, as it’s the chance to unwind away from the car traffic, indulge in a picnic or do some jogging or biking. One of the reasons why Villa Borghese is so well known by tourists is that it’s the closest green space to the center of the city, and it’s close to many Roman landmarks. Every guide features at least one entry on the park, and with good reason – it hosts important events like the Piazza di Siena horse show, music and movie festivals as well as exhibitions.
However, more often than not those who experience the city are unaware that Villa Borghese is far from being the only park in the capital of Italy, and that there is so much more to be explored – and some of the alternatives are just astounding!
What follows is a non-comprehensive list of From Home to Rome’s favourite parks – huge, with a free entrance and rich in history and attractions!
A onetime property of the kings of Italy, it’s a huge area north of Villa Borghese and one of Rome’s “wildest” parks. During the summer, it hosts a popular music festival. It’s very conveniently reachable by buses departing from the main bus hub at Termini or just outside the Barberini subway stop. Visitors can also step into the underground shelter where the royal family used to wait while airstrikes hit Rome.
The magnificent mansion at the heart of this garden belonged to Mussolini, but as the name suggests it was the property of the Torlonia family before the fascist regime. After the end of WWII it was seized and eventually turned into a museum-cum-public park (albeit the smallest one in this list). The estate includes a theatre, a tech museum for kids and the astounding Casina delle Civette, a must visit in itself, a masterpiece of art nouveau architecture. As with Villa Ada, the park includes an air raid shelter. You’ll get to Villa Torlonia by bus, either from the Piazza Venezia area or from the hub at Termini.
Villa Pamphilj (or, Pamphili)
These used to be the hunting grounds for one of Rome’s best known aristocrat families. It has largely maintained those rugged looks, although don’t miss the magnificent Villa Doria Pamphilj with its garden – a little Roman Versailles at the heart of the city’s biggest park. You can reach it by tram (line no. 8) or bus.
Open 24 hours a day, this rustic-looking park in south Rome is part of the Appian Way archaeological area and is loved by Romans who go there to run, bike or just hang out during a picnic. Originally owned by Herodes Atticus, a senator in Roman times, the park is still the home to several ancient Roman artefacts, in varying degrees of conservation. Very easily reachable by subway.
Also open 24 hours a day and adjacent to the Caffarella Park – with which it shares its look – this is a must-see destination not just for outdoors lovers, but for photography enthusiasts, too! As the name suggests, a few Roman aqueducts pass through it, and they’re in excellent state of conservation, so taking a walk here is like entering a time machine of sorts! As with the Caffarella, the subway line A will take you within walking distance from the main entrances.
Often ignored in spite of being around the corner from the Colosseum, this little park was once the garden to the wonderful mansion right in the middle of it, now the home to the Italian Geographic Society. A much-loved green pocket with stunning views over the Roman Forum, it’s the home to several festivals. You can walk to it if you’re in the Forum area, or you can get to it by bus.