Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Villa Borghese – An oasis in Rome

Rome can be overwhelming. There is so much to see and so much to do that the choice of how to spend your time can be a daunting and time-consuming task. There are numerous guided tours available but I have always preferred to find things on my own. In the five years we lived in the center of Rome it is highly unlikely that we ever scratched the surface of Rome’s vast culture.

As you walk in the center of Rome you will undoubtedly pass in front of Villa Borghese. An unusually long stretch of contiguous greenery and several palatial edifices adorn the route but in Rome, with Piazza di Spagna and Piazza del Popolo as neighbors, Villa Borghese is not something that stands out as a rare and unique treasure.

In realty villa Borghese is not a villa at all, instead it was a vineyard in the 1500s. In 1605 the cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of Pope Paolo V, began transforming these vineyards into the most elaborate and extensive gardens of Ancient Rome. The original lot, known as the Gardens of Lucullo, was frequented by the ruling class of Rome until the fall of the Republic. In the 19th century the Gardens were transformed into English Gardens and in 1901 the State purchased the entire park that spans from the Spanish Steps to Piazza del Popolo. In 1903 Villa Borghese was opened to the public and still today it is a refreshing refuge in Roman life.

Villa Borghese is not just breathtaking gardens, it is also home to 12 buildings, with 16th century architecture and home to invaluable works of art. Raffaello, Tiziano, Ghirlandaio, Lotto and Rubens all have their works housed there. Villa Borghese is also home to 6 Museums, 5 fountains from the Roman Empire and furniture from 7 different eras. Truly this is a concentration of humanity's greatest accomplishments.

For those of us who lived in Rome, Villa Borghese is more. It a place of peace and tranquility in a city of 10 million people, a destination of couples relaxing in the afternoon sun, a refuge from the demands of daily life where one can stop, think, contemplate and rejuvenate. An oasis in the Eternal City!


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Blogger Italian Wine Guy® said...

I love the Parioli district and have fond memories of Ambasciata d’Abruzzo there.

6:14 AM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

For those who have not been: Ambasciata d'Abruzzo is a restaurant. The owner prides himself on traditional cuisine from Abruzzo and some parts of Lazio. Quality foods, great use of mushrooms when in season and good hearty wines. Thanks IWG!

6:22 AM

Anonymous Jennifer said...

This was one of my favorite places that we visited in Rome. Such a beautiful area!

4:38 PM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Jennifer - It is truly peaceful. I have spent many evenings there with Raffaella, winding down after a long day.

Thank you for stopping by. I heard that Mercedes will import the Smart Car!

5:16 PM


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