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5 of the best parks and gardens in Rome

It doesn't take long to find the best parks and gardens in Rome — it's packed with everything from low-key green spaces to botanical beauties

By Julia Buckley
Published 4 Mar 2018, 15:00 GMT, Updated 14 Jul 2021, 09:52 BST
Villa Borghese Gardens, Rome.

Villa Borghese Gardens, Rome.

Photograph by Getty Images

In a city as chaotic as Rome, finding a slice of green is easier than you might think. Behold its leafy cluster of parks and gardens, urban oases who not only offer shady respite from the hustle and bustle, but are attractions in their own right, flaunting everything from elegant galleries to ancient ruins, and spectacular views to boot. Just for a while, forgo the sights and sounds of the city to delve into the city's green heart with five of the best:

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.

Follow @juliathelast

Published in the Rome 2018 guide, distributed with the April 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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