the borghese & pincio
Posted on February 24, 2013
The Pincian Hill statue and fountain, walk to the end of the Pincio and stand where the people are for a breathtaking sunset over Rome’s nearby and far away cupolas, churches, renaissance homes and marble and stone.
The Villa Borghese garden park is the most beautiful, breathtaking city park I’ve ever seen. When in Rome, we usually stay on the Via Veneto at the gorgeous Grande Albergo Flora. It’s next to an 1100 year old wall which leads to the park.
Families and couples rent these little golf carts to stroll around the park on the weekends.
We take a leisurely stroll through the park every morning, passing by cyclists and flaneurs, children and fruit sellers.
In one section of the large park there is fresh fruit and juice sold by a Parisian looking cart. The juice is amazing.
Romans bicycle in the park and visitors rent bicycles to ride all afternoon through the beautiful surroundings.
The stone and marble details of the ornately carved benches and walls are commonplace, tourists perusing a map or Romans can sit and take in the lush outdoor decor. There is nothing like this in America.
You know you’ve walked into the Pincio part of the Borghese when you see all the statues and busts of Italian notables.
There’s a bird aviary, 18th centurary statuary, fountains, winding garden lanes and wide boulevards, with the scent of lemon and orange and cypress trees. There’s a pond and lazy Sunday park benches and fields where Roman’s lunch and steal kisses.
The pond in the Borghese is stunning. People rent charming little rowboats and children sail toy boats on the lake. There are ruins nearby and this “boat house” is historical and beautiful.
The golden hour right before sunset is the most magical time to be here.
Kids rollerblade on the Viale delle Magnolie (avenue of the Magnolias) – a magnolia tree lined paved street leading to the Pincio that reminds me of New Orleans when the magnolias are in bloom.
The Borghese homes (now museums,boutique hotels and lavish restaurants and quiet cafes) are all high renaissance architecture, housing some of the greatest of the world’s art treasures; Bernini, Bellini, Caravaggio, Titian, Raphael, Rubens, Canova, among countless beautiful objects and amazing paintings and sculptures.
This was a great cafe right in the park with good espresso, wines, juice, small plates and desserts. It had perfect outdoor ambience.
The original gardens were the famed ancient Gardens of Lucullus and later “became the favorite playground of Claudius’ Empress Messalina (after she forced the current owner, Valerius Asiaticus, to commit suicide – Tac. Annals XI.1), and was the site of her murder on the orders of the Emperor Claudius, her husband. In the 16th century they were owned by Felice della Rovere, daughter of Pope Julius II. In 1605, Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V and patron of Bernini, began turning this former vineyard into the most extensive gardens built in Rome since Antiquity.” (Wikipedia)
Orange trees from a “secret garden” – through the gate.
Lemon trees from a “secret garden” – through the gate.
Outdoor garden architecture!
One of the spot’s I love most is the secret garden with the orange and lemon trees, next to the incredible Galleria Borghese. One looks through an iron fence to the 17th century splendor of the greenery.
A far away shot of the garden architecture of one of the “secret gardens”.
A far away shot of the orange and lemon trees from one of the “secret gardens”.
After enjoying the park, the gardens and perusing the art, we then walk to the Piazza d’Espagna (the Spanish Steps) and drink tea and eat scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam in the most British of all afternoon tearooms, the sumptuous, very 19th century, Babington Tea room.
If we’re feeling really ambitious we pop a couple doors over to the Keats and Shelley house, recite a little poetry, watch the passersby, and walk further into the city.
“The Secret Garden, is a charming characteristic which can be found in italian parks and gardens of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, when there was a revival of interest in all things ancient. These lovely enclosed spaces, often near their owners’ homes, were reserved for the invited and the privileged. Such places have a lovely atmosphere of seclusion, secrecy and tranquility, adding new dimensions of beauty to their surroundings.
The Villa Borghese had two “secret spaces”: one, shrouded by trees, is the garden of bitter oranges (Giardino dei melangoli) and has a lovely eagle fountain in front of its adjacent mansion; the second “The Flower Garden”, is the beautifully laid out formal garden. A third secret garden stretches in front of the Aviary, accompanied by the Meridiana (Sun dial) mansion, designed by Rainaldi.”
This will not be my last writing on the villa borghese parks and gardens. It’s a place I keep returning to and each visit brings something new to my world. If you go to Rome one day you must walk through this park and see a sunset on the Pincio. I hope you can explore this lovely place. And see the art work at the Villa Borghese museum, too!
//photographs copyright rebecca price butler …