Borghese Park – Rome’s Central Park

Borghese Park in Rome
Borghese Park in Rome

In a city of almost three million people, I always enjoy finding a place to get away from it all. When I needed a break from the fast pace of sightseeing in Rome, I made my way over to Borghese Park, also known as Villa Borghese, located north of the Spanish Steps. Roughly one-fifth the size of New York City’s Central Park, Borghese Park is a welcome respite for tired feet after a few busy days in Rome. The park has two main entrances, one at Piazza del Popolo and the Porta Pinciana entrance off via Veneto.

Men playing Bocce Ball
Men playing Bocce Ball

What was originally a vineyard became the 2nd largest public park in Rome, with the Villa Doria Pamphili in western Rome considered to be the largest. After obtaining the Villa Borghese from the Borghese family in 1903, the city opened the park to the public. The park  offers something for people of all ages, with open green spaces, bocce courts, picnic areas, a zoo, museums, bicycle rentals, a lake with boats, an amphitheatre and a botanical garden.
20110502-111735.jpgMuseums
The most well-known museum in the park is Galleria Borghese, or the Borghese Gallery, which is in the original Villa Borghese, after which the park derived its name. Galleria Borghese features works of art from the masters, Raphael, Titian and Rubens as well as sculptures from Bernini and Canova. It is located near the Porta Pinciana entrance.
20110502-112114.jpgThe National Gallery of Modern Art, or Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, has 75 rooms featuring the largest collection from 19 th and 20th century Italian artists. It is close to the National Etruscan Museum, or Museo Nazionale Etrusco, which is inside the Villa Giulia, the former summer home for Pope Julius III. One of its main features is a life size reclining bride and groom monument.

Zoo
Called the Bioparco, the zoo in the northeastern area of Borghese Gardens, is a delight to both children and adults. It is one of the oldest zoos in the world, built in 1911 and has over one thousand animals. It is open daily except Christmas for an entrance fee of 15 euros for adults and 12 euros for children and seniors.

Lake
The lake in the park is not only a beautiful serene spot with swans, ducks and geese, but you can also rent boats here. A favorite subject with photographers, the Temple of Esculapius next to the lake allows for great photo opportunities.

Rentals and Other Fun Activities
Besides renting boats at the lake, you can rent bicycles and Segways as well as take a hot air balloon ride from inside the park. For children, there are playgrounds and a children’s library and also a small touring train which traverses the park. A cinema house featuring predominantly Italian films also is in this park.
20110502-112134.jpgRome is beautiful and there is so much to see, but part of living the sweet life or “la dolce vita” is taking time to relax in one of its few green spaces. Borghese Park is a pleasant alternative to the cobble-stoned streets and uphill roads of the Eternal City.
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16 Responses

  1. greeneyewitchygirlbree55

    looks like there is at least 6 months of Italia to see and take in and you did in 3 weeks amazing !!!

  2. An amazing number of things to see and do in that park. The estate is lovely and it is good that Rome, although eternal, found a modern way to green space parts of the city.

  3. K Smothers

    We were in Rome in September. It was rather warm and crowded so we made our way to the park for a few hours. It was much cooler and so serene. I learned a few historical details from your post so thanks. Great pics as always.

  4. I been to Rome several times but never visited the Borghese Gardens. Your post just put it on “Must see” list. Thanks Margie!

  5. Great post Marge. We were in Rome in 2009, and I dropped my wife off the the park to return the rental car to the airport. I saw a sign for a restaurant and told here I would meet here there in two hours. I proved to be an eventful day. First I drone through the zona limiatato, not seeing any signs and enjoying the view of the Coloseo! Then after getting on the Leonardo DaVinci Express, I finally got back my wife was no where to be found in the restaurant. Seems that there were two places with the same name in the park, after another two hours we found each other. If AT&T had not locked my cell phone out, we would have made connections.

    The folks in Roma made their money for the day, I received a traffic ticket for 100E about a month later!

    Ciao

  6. Please excuse broken link, correct site is http://www.gregsitaly.com

  7. I’m going to Rome in sept. Do u have any contact info about the hot air balloon. I can’t seem to find any online

    • Thank you Sandy…Have a great time. September is a beautiful time to be in Italy. I do not have any information on this I am sorry to say. have you considered emailing the officials at Borghese Park?

  8. Dear Margie,
    I’m going to Rome with my class in october.
    We really, really wanted to do that balloon ride after reading about that online. The only contact info we found doesn’t seem to work anymore. When I searched for it, some web sites even claim that the balloon ride doesn’t even exist anymore – and hasn’t existed for the past few years! Can you remember seeing it in borghese park when you were there?
    And I read your reply to Sandy, but I can’t find the contact info about the officials at Borghese Park either. Would you please tell me how I could contact these officials?

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