Rome free afternoon: Our four favorite parks in Rome

A peaceful scene in the Villa Borghese. Photos by Sav D'Souza.
A peaceful scene in the Villa Borghese. Photos by Sav D'Souza.

By Sav D’Souza in Rome—

Rome, like most European destinations, has some delightful parks. Whether you plan to relax after a day on the town, or spend a free afternoon strolling through gardens, sitting and public—park, the Villa Doria Pamphilj. Named after two noble Italian families, this marvel sits West of the Tiber and just South of Vatican City in residential Monteverde.

At the park’s center is the Villa Vecchia, here since the 1600s. The park itself offers a host of lovely gardens, intricate statues, a grotto, and fountains. A curvy bridge links up the gardens making this an especially popular destination for jogging and walking dogs.

Napoleon's bust in the Villa Borghese.

Napoleon’s bust in the Villa Borghese.

Villa Borghese
Via Veneto
(Metro line A to Flaminio)

A sprawling area of land full of everything from quiet, lush green spaces to famous statues and fountains, the Villa Borghese is perhaps Rome’s most well-known park.  The oasis, completed around 1620, is an ideal venue for taking in some rays.

When you’re done sun bathing, you must check out the Borghese Gallery, considered one of the world’s top private art collections. (Keep in mind you need to reserve a ticket before you gallery-gaze. Adult tickets, to the museum and gallery, are €13.50 plus a €2 booking fee. EU citizens, children, and seniors receive a discount.)

Tip: Check out the carriage racing, every May at the Piazza di Siena.

Gianicolo Park
Trastevere (Walk up Via Garibaldi)

The Gianicolo, in picturesque Trastevere, is at the top of Janiculum Hill and offers unbeatable panoramic views of Rome’s sprawl. It’s a bit of a trek up, but if you can make it, pleasant scenery and unique photo-ops await you. Pack a picnic and make a day of it. For more info, grab a map at the Rome Tourism Office. The walk up to Janiculum Hill and its accompanying park are also clearly marked on most any tourist map of Rome.

Pincio Gardens
Piazzale Napoleone I and Viale dell’Obelisco
(Metro line A to Flaminio)

The Pincio gardens overlook the neoclassical Piazza del Popolo. Although Pincio is slightly wild and unkempt, I still love it for its vivid colors, towering trees, and foliage-filled gardens.  The Pincio remains a local and tourist favorite for sunset watching and afternoon reading—and is considered one of the prettiest places in the Eternal City.

Do you have a favorite park in Rome? Or, know of a secret garden somewhere off the beaten path? Share it in the comment section below.

About the author

About the author: Sav D’Souza is a freelance journalist currently based in Rome. He has worked as a journalist in Hawaii, Prague, and London and contributed features to the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, SA Sports Illustrated, Prague Post and CNBC Europe. He is a demon pool player, enjoys a round of golf, playing poker, and the occasional gin and tonic.
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