As Italy’s capital, Rome has a brisk urban pace that can be overwhelming. Luckily, the city is home to peaceful parks offering respite from the summer heat, quiet paths far from traffic, and some of the best views over the domes and rooftops of the historic center. Here are our top picks of the best parks and gardens in the Eternal City.
The center of the city and queen of Rome’s public parks is Villa Borghese, home to the spectacular Villa Borghese museum, with a collection including works by Bernini, Caravaggio, and others. This vast park, dotted with statues, fountains, lakes, and small museums, houses the city zoo and the Pincio terrace, where you can take in the sweeping view over Piazza del Popolo and the city center.
Villa Doria Pamphili
Once the private estate of the aristocratic Pamphili family and another of Rome’s top public parks, Villa Doria Pamphili is the largest landscaped garden in the city. The headliner here is the Casino del Bel Respiro, an elegant, 17th-century villa surrounded by exquisite parterre. Gardening enthusiasts will love the meticulous landscaping, but the winding paths, rich bird life, pretty pedestrian bridge, and towering shade trees make this garden a welcome oasis for everyone.
The Botanical Garden (Orto Botanico)
Tucked in the Trastevere neighborhood overlooking the sumptuous Palazzo Corsini, Rome’s excellent Botanical Garden is often overlooked, despite its lush grounds covering 30 acres (12 hectares) and planted with more than 3,000 species. Meander uphill through the bamboo forest, Japanese garden, rose garden, and greenhouses bursting with orchids, bonsai, cacti, and other flora to the scenic lookout at the top of Janiculum Hill, where you can pause to take in the view over the city.
Orange Garden (Giardini degli Aranci)
Across the Tiber River from the Botanical Garden, the pocket-size Orange Garden sits at the top of Aventine Hill, one of Rome’s seven historic hills and among the most scenic spots in the historic center. Thick with orange trees and umbrella pines, this gated garden near the Circus Maximus and Mouth of Truth (Bocca della Verità) is a popular stop for shutterbugs who want to capture the view of Michelangelo’s dome topping St. Peter’s Basilica.
The Vatican Gardens
After the throngs of visitors that crowd the other highlights in Vatican City, these gardens just steps from St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel are surprisingly quiet. Open in June, July, and August, these 13th-century gardens spread across a series of landscaped terraces dotted with flower beds and fountains are the perfect break after visiting the basilica and Vatican Museums. The footsore can even explore the gardens via an open-air bus.