Rome is a city famously full of monuments and museums. But it’s also a city filled with scenic green spaces.
Escape the buzz of traffic and crowds of people on the streets, and find a quiet spot in one of these seven beautiful parks and gardens. They have everything from ruins to scenic vistas to a keyhole with an unusual optical illusion.
Bring along a gelato or ciabatta sandwich to enjoy al fresco, and it’s about as blissful as you could want.
1. Villa Borghese
The Villa Borghese is the green heart of Rome. Inside the almost 20 acres of landscaped gardens you will find lush lawns, a lake, and one of the best museums in town.
This park is also close to the famous Spanish Steps. Climb to the top and you are almost there. There have been gardens here since 60 BC, and the space was also cultivated for vineyards. In the 1600s, Cardinal Scipione Borghese commissioned the park that Romans and visitors enjoy today.
Local tip: You can rent a boat for a paddle on the picturesque lake, visit the zoo, and have a drink at one of the cafes or kiosks scattered inside the park.
2. Villa Aldobrandini
When you’re wandering around the Monti neighborhood after your Colosseum & Roman Forum tour, look for a flight of steps and climb up to the slightly neglected gardens of the Villa Aldobrandini.
This hanging garden looks out over Largo Magnanapoli with views of the Quirinale, Trajan’s Markets, and the leaning Torre delle Milizie. Relax with neighborhood dog walkers under the palm trees and remnants of marble statues.
3. Nicola Calipari Gardens in Piazza Vittorio
This park not far from the Termini train station recently reopened after a long renovation, and it was absolutely worth the wait.
It’s a well-used urban park. You will see kids playing basketball on a small court, old men sitting and reading newspapers on one of the many benches scattered throughout, and families passing through with students on their way to school.
The large fountain in the center of the park was designed by Mario Rutelli in 1910 and was originally supposed to be in Piazza Esedra. The public did not like the depiction of the sea creatures and Neptune and nicknamed the sculpture the “fritto misto” (fried fish).
Local tip: Look for the Porta Magica, the remains of a medieval villa that were thought to be inscribed with the secret of the philosopher’s stone.
4. Parco Savelli
The peaceful Parco Savelli sits atop the regal Aventine Hill. This park is also known as the Giardini degli Aranci.
Legend has it that in the 13th century, Saint Dominic planted a single orange tree in this spot. Now there is a plentiful fragrant orange grove.
You can still see remains of the walls of the ancient Savelli castle in the park’s grounds. The scenic terrace has one of Rome’s best sunset views.
Local tip: Don’t miss the nearby Aventine Keyhole with its thrilling optical illusion.
5. Orto Botanico
Tucked in behind apartment buildings and the Corsini Palace on the edge of Trastevere is a lush botanical garden managed by Sapienza University of Rome. Relax in the tranquil formal Japanese garden, and be charmed by the sweet butterfly garden, romantically called the Butterfly Eden.
There is also a small garden bar truck to grab a drink or a picnic basket. The park is open everyday from 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m. and has an entry fee of €8.
6. Parco Regionale dell’Appia Antica
Leave the city behind and head for the pleasantly rural park along the Appia Antica. This queen of roads once linked Rome all the way down to Brindisi in Puglia.
There are still six of the original 11 aqueducts that once supplied water to the city. If you’re lucky, you might even come across a shepherd and his herd of sheep.
Bonus: The Parco degli Acquedotti, pictured above, is right nearby. It’s just a 10-minute drive or about an hour’s walk, depending on where in the park you start from. On the way, you’ll pass by the Parco di Torre Fiscale, featuring a 13th-century tower.
7. The Non-Catholic Cemetery
When you step through the gates of the Non-Catholic Cemetery on the edges of the Testaccio neighborhood, you enter another world, enveloped in lush green and hushed silence.
Visit the graves of the English romantic poets John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley, and maybe recite a line of poetry in this peaceful place. Planted among the headstones — which vary from simple marble slabs to ornate sculptural works — are tree peonies, wisteria and roses. These bloom in the early spring and keep the burial grounds colorful all year long.
Don’t miss Rome’s own pyramid, which was built between 18-12 BC as a tomb for the wealthy Roman citizen Gaius Cestius.
Tips for exploring Rome’s parks and gardens
While you are exploring Rome’s many parks, green spaces and gardens, look out for small water fountains called “nasone” or sometimes known as “fontanella.” You can fill your reusable bottle with the cold clean water that constantly flows from them.
So much of everyday Roman life is lived outside. The mild Mediterranean climate means you can enjoy the outdoors in every season. So why not try it on your next visit to Rome? You can escape the summer heat under a grove of umbrella pines or soak in the winter sunshine on a park bench near an ancient villa.