Waking up to another glorious day in Italy, we decided to spend the day in a more relaxed manner. After a busy few days exploring Rome and Vatican City, we fancied exploring one of the parks. Rome’s second largest park, Villa Borghese Gardens is a landscape garden with various attractions and museums, as well as gorgeous scenery. It’s unique in the sense that there’s so much wonderful Roman art among the stunning green landscape.
Arriving at Villa Borghese Gardens
Villa Borghese first came to life back in the sixteenth century as a vineyard belonging to the Borghese family. Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the nephew of Pope Paul V then turned the chateau into large Roman gardens. The Borghese family then continued to expand their estate by buying up surrounding land. Villa Borghese itself was intended to store the Borghese family’s art collection, although nowadays it’s a national museum. In the early twentieth century, the Italian state bought the villa, and both the villa and the surrounding gardens are now open to the public.
We entered the park and began to get our bearings. There’s so much to do – from wandering the museums to riding around on a golf buggy. It’s a pretty cool park in that respect. It’s also ideal for families with children, as there’s a zoo, roller skate rental, and much more.
Boating in Villa Borghese Gardens
If you wander around the park, you’ll discover the lake where you can hire rowing boats in twenty minute slots. The lake is surrounded by the Viale del Lago pathway for pretty views of the lake. The key feature is the Temple of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine.
There’s a boat house where you can hire rowboats cheaply. It costs around three euros per person for twenty minutes. Twenty minutes is totally sufficient – it gives you enough time to practise your rowing and work your way around the lake. Taking our chances and hoping to cool off a little on the lake, we hopped into a boat. Oddly enough, it reminded me of something out of a Jane Austen novel, but sadly there was no Mr Darcy around. When your time’s up, the boat master calls your number in Italian.
I let Jo do most of the driving. It’s a little harder than it looks. We worked our way around the sights on the lake. The Temple of Asclepius is one of the main attractions on the lake. It was built back in 1786 in memory of the destroyed ancient temple of Asclepius on Tiber Island. In the eighteenth century, copies of ancient temples and status were often used as decoration in landscapes or gardens.
Watch out for tortoises in the lake!
When our twenty minutes of rowing ended, we took a stroll around the park. We found some beautiful scenery, and unexpectedly came across the most stunning vista across Rome.
Exploring the Gardens
Exiting the park, we passed some gorgeous buildings. Here’s Casina Valadier, an exquisite restaurant at the highest point of Pincio. I’d love to go back and eat there – imagine the fabulous views. It’s a neoclassical building that dates back to 1837 with its own private gardens.
Turning the corner, we came across the Pincio Terrace. Although the Pincian Hill isn’t technically one of the Seven Hills of Rome, it has one of the best panoramic views across the beautiful Italian city.
You can see across the terracotta roofs, the historic centre, and all the way to Vatican City. It’s easy to reach from Villa Borghese Gardens and worth discovering for the fabulous views alone. Such a lovely surprise that we didn’t expect!
See how many of Rome’s domes you can spot from this viewpoint. We enjoyed the views for a while before going back to Rome’s historic centre. We had a few more things to cram into our final day, including a trip to the Colosseum. I highly recommend visiting Villa Borghese Gardens during your visit to Rome.
Have you been to Villa Borghese Gardens? If not, where are your favourite viewpoints across beautiful Rome? Let me know in the comments below.