VILLA BORGHESE: A GREEN PEARL IN THE HEART OF ROME

THE PARK

With a size of about 80 hectares, the park of Villa Borghese is one of the largest green areas in Rome. Located close to the Salario and Pinciano districts, in the area flanked by the Aurelian Walls that connect Porta Pinciana to Piazzale Flaminio, this immense beating heart in the centre of Rome is accessible from nine points. The monumental entrances to the park are admirable examples of Baroque and Neoclassical art. Going up Via Veneto and crossing the magnificent Porta Pinciana you can access from the Portale dei Vasi, built around the middle of the nineteenth century. From this entrance you can reach the small temple of Diana, a circular structure built in 1789, and the Silvano Toti Globe Theatre, a reconstruction of the famous Elizabethan theatre, which from June to October stages some of the most famous Shakespearean operas, including original language versions (www.globetheatreroma.com). The park, surrounded by centuries-old plants and Italian gardens, contains buildings, monuments and fountains from the Baroque and Neoclassical periods. Bicycles, tandems and rickshaws can be rented near the Biopark and the Borghese Gallery.

THE VILLA

The construction of the Villa Borghese Pinciana, inside which the Galleria Borghese is located, was started in 1607, under the guidance of the architect Flaminio Ponzio. The nucleus of the oratory is constituted by the Casina Nobile, realized to host the collection of Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V. Some buildings, among which the Uccellieria, were completed under the direction of the architect Giovanni Vasanzio, with successive interventions of Carlo Rainaldi, to whom we owe the realization of the Pavilion of the Sundial. Starting from 1770 Marcantonio IV Borghese commissioned a significant renewal of the decorative layout of the buildings to the architect Antonio Asprucci, who was responsible for the construction of the famous temple of Aesculapius and the arrangement of the Casino of Villa Pinciana. At the beginning of the 19th century, commissioned by Camillo Borghese, the Villa was enlarged by architect Luigi Canina, who was responsible for the construction of the neoclassical propylaea that make up the monumental entrance near Piazza del Popolo. Close to the ring of Piazza di Siena, home of the famous international horse racing competition (www.piazzadisiena.it), there are the Casino dell'Orologio and the Casina di Raffaello, to which the church of the Immaculate Conception was annexed in 1791.

THE MASTERPIECES

The Borghese Gallery, located in the original nucleus of the Villa, can be visited with a compulsory reservation from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9.00 to 19.00, with admission allowed to the public until 17.00. On Thursday the closing time is extended to 21.00 and you can access the structure until 19.00. (www.galleriaborghese.beniculturali.it). The entrance of the museum is located in Piazzale Scipione Borghese 5, inside the park of Villa Borghese. The large collection, inaugurated by Cardinal Scipione Borghese at the beginning of the 17th century, includes mosaics, sculptures and ancient bas-reliefs. The splendid frescoed rooms display paintings by Antonello da Messina, Raphael, Titian and Caravaggio, sculptures by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Canova. Inside the rooms you can admire the marble complex Apollo and Daphne, made by Bernini between 1622 and 1625, the sculpture of hermaphrodite and the portrait of Paolina Bonaparte Borghese, made by Canova between 1805 and 1808.

THE GARDEN

The park of Villa Borghese offers naturalistic itineraries of great charm and charm. In the Garden of the Lake, where you can rent small boats, you can admire the temple of Aesculapius, built on an artificial islet. The Secret Gardens, so defined because originally bounded by high walls that hid them from view, house fountains and plants of unusual beauty. The Bird Garden is part of the three secret gardens of the Casino Nobile; the Garden of the Sundial, also called Garden of Chickens, allows you to admire rare flowers, including lilium, tulips, anemones, daffodils, and jasmine. Near the Bioparco is the Park of fallow deer, the ancient hunting reserve of the Borghese Prince: here are the colossal herms built by Pietro and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The area in front of Viale delle Belle Arti, near the National Gallery of Modern Art (www.galleriaartemodernaroma.it), houses the Valle dei Platani, a corner of Roman countryside remained intact from the early seventeenth century to the present day.