5 of the best parks and gardens in Rome
- Best for art: Villa Borghese
- Best for history: Villa Celimontana
- Best for views: Giardino degli Aranci
- Best for flora: Gianicolo
- Best for fitness: Parco degli Acquedotti
Best for art: Villa Borghese
Rome’s most refined green space sprawls for 200 acres around the Galleria Borghese. That’s not the only cultural attraction; the National Etruscan Museum at Villa Giulia, the French Academy at Villa Medici and the modern art gallery, Museo Carlo Bilotti, are all here. Criss-crossed with paths and dotted with pines, and even an English-style lake, it still has the feel of its 19th-century heyday.
Best for history: Villa Celimontana
On top of Monte Celio is this low-key park surrounding a 16th-century villa. It’s a microcosm of Rome; a tract of ancient road to the right, sculptures, columns and sarcophagi up ahead, and a church with a Byzantine mosaic to the left. In between are blooming magnolias, a mini Zen-style garden and tree-lined slopes. There’s also outdoor meditation here every Saturday afternoon.
Best for views: Giardino degli Aranci
Small but perfectly formed, the ‘orange garden’ — officially the Parco Savello — sits atop the Aventine Hill and offers one of the most iconic views of the city. Past a fountain that resembles the Bocca della Verità, over the remains of a medieval castle and through a grove of orange trees, there’s a terrace cantilevered above the Tiber with a view of St Peter’s dome.
Best for flora: Gianicolo
Across the Tiber from the city centre, the Gianicolo hill not only nets a jaw-dropping panorama of Rome, it’s also home to the Orto Botanico — a 19th-century botanical garden with 3,000 species of plants, fountains, waterfalls and an area full of medicinal herbs (entry €8/£7). A cannon is fired from the hill at noon every day — a timekeeping tradition going strong since 1904.
Best for fitness: Parco degli Acquedotti
On the outskirts of the city centre, between the Appian Way and Cinecittà film studios, this extraordinary 600-acre park takes its name from the two aqueducts that run through it — the 16th-century Acqua Felice and the Aqua Claudia, commissioned by Caligula in AD38. It’s a great place to go for a jog — pair it with a trip to the nearby Parco della Caffarella.
Published in the Rome 2018 guide, distributed with the April 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)