Activities & Adventure 7 MINS READ

Villa Borghese: The Best Things To See & More

Villa Borghese: The Best Things To See & More

Activities & Adventure 7 MINS READ
Villa Borghese

From energetic joggers to smitten couples, everyone gets swept up in the charm of Villa Borghese, Rome’s most famous park. Once a private estate belonging to Cardinal Scipione Borghese in the 17th century, this sprawling 80-hectare expanse offers a delightful mix of wooded areas, manicured gardens, and grassy meadows.

Highlights include the picturesque Giardino del Lago, Piazza di Siena (a dusty arena for Rome’s premier equestrian competition held in May), and a breathtaking panoramic terrace atop Pincio Hill overlooking Piazza del Popolo below and St. Peter’s Basilica in the distance. Let’s take a closer look to understand what makes this attraction so compelling.

The History of Villa Borghese

Villa Borghese

Early Beginnings (1580s)

The land where the Villa Borghese sits belonged to the Borghese family as early as the 1580s. Back then, it was just a vineyard.

Grand Transformation (Early 1600s)

In 1605, Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V, set his sights on transforming the former vineyard. He envisioned a grand estate, unlike anything Rome had seen since ancient times. He commissioned architect Flaminio Ponzio to design Villa Borghese Pinciana (now the Galleria Borghese) and Domenico Savino da Montepulciano to plan extensive gardens.

A Showcase of Power and Art (17th & 18th Centuries)

Over the years, the Borghese family acquired more land, expanding the estate. The villa became a place to display its vast collection of art, featuring works by Bernini, Caravaggio, Titian, and Raphael, among others. The gardens, designed in a mix of formal and informal styles, were a marvel of landscaping, incorporating fountains, sculptures, and a variety of plants.

Public Park and National Museum (19th & 20th Centuries)

In the 19th century, the Borghese family opened the gardens to the public. Today, the Villa Borghese is a popular public park, offering a beautiful green escape in the heart of Rome. It’s also a treasure trove of art and history.

Points of Interest

Borghese Gallery

Villa Borghese
Highlights▸ Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne
▸ Bernini’s David
▸ Canova’s Paolina Borghese as Venus
▸ Raphael’s Deposition of Christ
▸ Caravaggio’s Boy with a Basket of Fruit

The Borghese Gallery is a world-famous art gallery home to a significant portion of the Borghese Art Collection. The collection includes paintings, sculptures, and antiquities from the 15th to the 18th centuries. The most famous artists in the collection include Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian, Bernini, and Canova.

Pincio’s Water Clock

Villa Borghese

A marvel of 19th-century engineering graces one of the ponds: a fully functional clock, built in 1867 by watchmaking priest Giambattista Embriaco and Swiss architect Joachim Ersoch. The device, featuring two synchronized basins that constantly fill and empty, harnesses the water’s flow to keep a pendulum swinging and gears turning. This perpetual motion eliminates the need for winding, making the clock a marvel of precision.

Terrazza del Pincio

Villa Borghese

While Villa Borghese boasts many charming areas, the crown jewel for breathtaking views is undeniably the Pincio Terrace. This expansive piazza acts as a balcony, offering a panoramic vista of Rome that will leave you speechless. Not only can you take in the sprawling cityscape, but you’ll also be directly above Piazza del Popolo and the Spanish Steps, allowing you to admire its grandeur from a privileged position.

Piazza di Siena

Villa Borghese

Nestled amidst towering umbrella pines, Piazza di Siena transforms into a bustling arena each May. This historic venue, built in the late 1700s by Prince Marcantonio IV Borghese, honors the Borghese family’s roots in Siena by hosting the city’s premier equestrian event.

Temple of Asclepius

Villa Borghese

Inspired by a destroyed ancient temple dedicated to the god of medicine, Asclepius, this little temple on a lake island in Villa Borghese was built in 1786. It’s a replica of a classical temple, a popular way to decorate gardens back then. Rent a rowboat and explore this romantic spot in Villa Borghese!

The Globe Theatre

Villa borghese

In the heart of Rome’s Villa Borghese Park, the Globe Theatre stands surrounded by flourishing gardens. Its Elizabethan design complements the park’s classical features beautifully. Built-in 2003 thanks to the Silvano Toti Foundation, the theater boasts three tiers built entirely of oak, topped with a copper roof, and features a floor resembling natural earth.

Visiting Villa Borghese Gardens with Kids

Bioparco di Roma

Villa Borghese

This zoo, located within the beautiful Villa Borghese, offers a chance to see a fascinating variety of animals in their naturally simulated habitats. Bioparco is dedicated to both conservation and education, making it a great place for families and animal lovers to learn about the amazing diversity of life on Earth.

The San Carlino – Puppet Theater

Villa Borghese
Photo Credit: Villa Borghese Gallery Tours

The San Carlino is a magical little puppet theater located in the heart of Villa Borghese. For over 20 years, it’s been a haven for children and families, offering a delightful mix of puppetry, acting, and musical performances. Shows are specifically designed to capture the imaginations of children, often featuring classic tales with a funny twist.

Stay Near Villa Borghese

Villa Borghese

For a luxurious stay near Villa Borghese: Relais Piazza del Popolo, an elegant guesthouse in a historic building. It’s a short distance from the park and puts you in a beautiful part of Rome.

For a charming boutique hotel: Residenza Piranesi Boutique Hotel. This stylish hotel is located in a historic building and offers elegant rooms, a rooftop terrace with stunning city views, and a peaceful courtyard.

For a modern and centrally-located hotel: Room Mate Filippo. This hotel features sleek and stylish rooms, a fitness center, and a terrace. It’s just steps away from the Barberini Metro station, making it a great base for exploring the city.

For a family-friendly option: Parco dei Principi Grand Hotel & SPA. This polished hotel offers spacious rooms, an upscale restaurant, a spa with pools, and a large garden. It’s a good option if you’re traveling with kids, as they have plenty of space to run around.

Plan Your Visit to Villa Borghese

Villa Borghese

📌 Location

00197 Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome Capital, Italy. Find on map

🗝️ Entrances

Villa Borghese has a total of nine entrances scattered around its vast park grounds. Here’s a list of all of them:

✦ Via Aldrovandi
✦ Via Raimondi
✦ Via Pinciana
✦ Porta Pinciana
✦ Piazzale San Paolo del Brasile
✦ Piazzale Flaminio
✦ Piazzale Cervantes
✦ Piazzale Pablo Picasso (via di Valle Giulia)

The two most commonly used entrances are:

✦ The gate near Porta Pinciana: This is considered the easiest and most scenic entrance. It’s located at the top of Via Veneto, near the Spanish Steps.

✦ The gate near Piazza del Popolo: This entrance is situated on the opposite side of the park from Porta Pinciana.

⏱️ Opening Hours

The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset.

Galleria Borghese is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 9 AM – 7 PM (the last admission is at 5 PM). The museum is closed on Mondays, 25th December and 1st January.

🚗 Getting There

✦ Metro: Take Line A to Spagna Station.
✦ Bus: Take buses 61, 117, 119, 120, 150, 160, or C3 to Villa Borghese stop.
✦ Tram: Tram #2 stops right outside Villa Borghese.

🔍 Tips

➤ Gear Up: The park is quite big, so comfortable shoes are a must for walking. Don’t forget to bring a water bottle to stay hydrated. In the summer, pack cool clothes to beat the heat.

➤ Golden Hour: For an unforgettable experience, consider visiting in the evening. The gardens and Pincio terrace offer stunning panoramic views of Rome’s skyline bathed in the golden light.

➤ Navigate with Ease: Grab a map to find your way around the vast gardens and pinpoint any attractions that pique your interest.

➤ Restroom Tip: Public restrooms are scarce within the gardens. If nature calls and you haven’t purchased a ticket to the Borghese Gallery, you might need to head there for their facilities.

➤ Dining Options: While food vendors are available, you can also pack a picnic lunch and enjoy it under the cool shade of the park’s many groves.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there an entrance fee to Villa Borghese Gardens?

No, entry to Villa Borghese Park itself is free. However, there are fees for the various museums located within the park grounds.

Can I bring my pets to Villa Borghese?

Yes, pets are allowed on leashes within the park, but not inside any of the museums.

Are there any bicycles and boats for rent at Villa Borghese Gardens?

Yes, you can rent bicycles to explore the park at various points. There’s also a boat rental service on the lake near the Bilotti Museum.

How much time do I need to see everything Villa Borghese has to offer?

If you just want to stroll through the park and enjoy the scenery, a few hours might suffice. However, if you plan to visit the museums, you could easily spend a full day or more exploring Villa Borghese.

Ritesh Raj

COO at CuddlyNest

Editorial Policy

Last update: 5 July 2024

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