It is a characteristic of a lively metropolitan city like Rome to have an active and energetic outdoor life. So when you are a tourist in Rome, the fast paced city lifestyle is thrilling to be a part of. But before long the time will come when you will want the peace and quiet of the country. And there is no better place to find that tranquillity than in Villa Borghese.
The 148 acres of this tranquil setting is not the largest retreat of its kind but you will find museums there, along with a beautiful artificial lake and aviaries to enjoy as well. In the 16th century Cardinal Borghese set about to create a beautiful villa based on the geometric model of Versailles. The Cardinal even provided the initial sketch that was used to construct the villa that is at the heart of the compound.
The man made lake was added in the 18th century to the center of Villa Borghese. To add to the scenic vision of the lake, a small Ionic style temple was added which was dedicated to the God of Healing.
Cardinal Borghese’s love of birds is reflected in his aviaries at the site where he could keep and enjoy exotic peacocks, ostriches and other lovely species on the grounds where gazelles used to graze.
At the turn of the 20th century, the grounds and facilities of Villa Borghese were donated to the City of Rome. Since then a number of improvements have been made, including more temples, sculptures and fountains. A notable fountain you can see there is the original version of the Tritons in the Fountain of the Moor which can be seen at the Piazza Navona in the city. The actual ones in the fountain are not originals but replicas of these originals.
This delightful 100 year old park offers delights and new things to discover whenever you are there. It is not uncommon at the appropriate time of year to find Siena Square in the park hosting horse jumping competitions that you can enjoy. There is a tranquil botanical garden for you to linger in and it is common to find outdoor concerts being performed at the Piazza di Siena Amphitheater. And not far from the botanical garden you can find a stunning Baroque arch that dates to the 18th century entitled the ‘Arco di Settimio Severo’.
If you feel hunger pangs come upon you, not to worry because there is a small bar in the middle of the park that offers a delightful and authentic Italian pasta dish or where you can be refreshed by a Campari. It is a short stroll from that bar to find some of the exhibitions that were on display at the 1911 World Exposition here for you to explore.
Of the many great things to see and do at the Villa Borghese, probably the museums draw the most attention.
Naturally you will find a good representation of Bernini sculpture on display since that artist is the man most often credited with designing many of the outdoor fountains in Rome. The Museo e Galleria Borghese does not disappoint, so you can find such brilliant Bernini pieces as Bernini’s Abduction of Proserpina by Pluto here. This gallery is well diversified with the artwork of a number of well respected artists including Titian and Raphael.
Another notable museum got it name because the building was originally the summer home for Pope Julius II in the year of 1553. So in the Villa Giulia you can find a museum named Museo Nazionale Etrusco – so named because the museum is primary devoted to showing Etruscan works that have been brought from excavations from the hills not far from Rome.
To gain entrance to the Villa Borghese, simply travel to the north end of the Spanish Steps. The actual entrances can be found above the Piazza del Poppolo and the Porta Pinciana but near the end of the Via Veneto. The Villa Borghese is an ideal spot to save for that time in your trip when you need a place of quiet to enjoy some peace and respite from a very active day in the city. But be sure you allocate several hours when you are there to see and experience all that the Villa has to offer.