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Rome is the greenest city in Europe, hiding secret gardens and sumptuous villas. Take a break from the museums for a stroll, run or picnic.
It won’t take long for you to realize how good the Romans have it when it comes to greenery. Just get out of your hotel, take a walk and look around. Not everybody knows is that the Capital is the greenest city in Europe – in fact, 67% of its territory is characterized by vegetation. The metropolitan area alone includes 4,000 hectares (about 9,900 acres) of public green space that makes it a friendly city for runners, walkers or picnic lovers.
The many mansions left by noble Roman families over the centuries allow you to piece together some history of the city. For example, Villa Corsini at the foot of the Janiculum Hill was once the residence of Queen Christina of Sweden. Today, the old park at the Villa hosts the Botanical Garden with over 3,000 plant species in 12 acres and 2,000 square meters of greenhouses.
Going up the Hill until you reach Porta San Pancrazio, you can discover the other parks of the Monteverde Vecchio neighbourhood. One of the greenest in the Capital, Villa Sciarra, is protected on one side by the Janiculum Walls (with an entrance from via Dandolo, too) and known to be where the troops of Giuseppe Garibaldi fought the French. It’s one of the most memorable and relaxing villas in Rome, famous for its beautiful fountains and a huge ginkgo tree that turns yellow in autumn.
A few hundred meters further lies the immense Villa Pamphili (over 180 hectares). It’s ideal for birdwatching or a long ride on mountain bikes before stopping to admire the splendid Casino del Bel Respiro (or Algardi) with its Secret Garden.
The park with the largest share of historical and artistic heritage in Rome is the very central Villa Borghese, a few steps from Via Veneto. While strolling through, guests can visit the Casino dell’Orologio, Giardino del Lago, Temple of Asclepius and of course the Galleria Borghese with its amazing collection that includes works by Caravaggio, Bernini, Titian and Rubens. Within its perimeter, there’s a Bio-Park, Piazza di Siena – the home to the International Horse Show – and the Globe Theatre – a hall with a circular plan modelled on Elizabethan theatres.
The green tour continues along via Nomentana, almost until Porta Pia, to discover the wonders at Villa Torlonia – including the Casino Nobile and the fairy-tale Casina delle Civette. Beautiful English garden were designed by Giuseppe Valadier for the Marquis Giovanni Torlonia, who bought the property from the Colonna family in 1797.
From the wildlife and environmental point of view, the richest is Villa Ada, in the Roma Nord district (entrances from via Salaria, just opposite the Catacombs of Priscilla – mark it in your diary). Locals storm the park especially in the summer when, around its pond, cultural events and music festivals are held.
Jazz lovers gather at Villa Celimontana, an elegant oasis between the Colosseum and the Baths of Caracalla; here, a highly appreciated international event is held in the summer.