One of the most beautiful public parks in Rome, also home to the Galleria Borghese, an art collection in the former residence of the noble and influential Borghese family.
When I visited Rome, a reservation for the Galleria was necessary, and the the visting time was limited to two hours.
Villa Borghese ranks with the Uffizi in Firenze and the Vatican Museum as a treasure-trove of Renaissance paintings. No photography is allowed inside (though sneaks with camera-phones took pictures during our visit).
The numbers of visitors is strictly limited: it's wise to make reservations well ahead of the day you want to visit. One source is selectitaly.com.
The day we visited the staff was having a union meeting. The line, or mob, outside the entryway included both "9 o'clock" and "11 o'clock" people. The niners had been waiting for over two hours by the time the door was opened. Some of them grew furious -- we feared something akin to a riot might erupt -- when the staff announced that we 11 o'clockers would be allowed in first, the the 9 o'clockers only as people from our time-group exited.
The turmoil made our visit less rewarding than it might otherwise have been. We were, however, overwhelmed by the works we saw and admired -- paintings by masters like Raphael and, the museum's most notorious work, Canova's nude sculptue of Bonaparte's sister, Pauline.
They spent more than 10 years restoring the Galleria Borghese, and it was worth it! It is one of the most splendid museums in the world. Some of Bernini's most masterful sculptures are here. When you see his "Daphne and Apollo," you will wonder how a human being could possible have created it out of stone. The curators say that when they cleaned it, every leaf rang like crystal! There are several Caravaggio's, Botticelli's "Sacred and Profane Love," Canova's scandalous (at the time) scupture of Pauline Bonaparte Borghese as "Venus Victorious," etc.
Make a reservation via phone or fax (see the museum website below). When they say arrive a half hour before, they mean it, especially in busy times. This will give you time to get your ticket, rent an audio guide or tour guide, check any backpacks or packages (required), maybe browse the museum shop or have an espresso at the small cafe in the half-basement, where the ticket office is located. Then go outside and up the steps for entry at your appointed hour. They will actually kick you out after two hours. Since everyone heads for the first room first, it's not a bad idea to forge ahead a few rooms. All the better to see things more quietly, then return and see the first rooms later.
There are two floors to the museum. Be sure to save time for the second floor which houses most of the paintings. The stairway to the second floor isn't obvious, so ask if you don't see it..
I made reservations through ticketeria before I left for Rome and was glad I did. When we went to pick up our tickets that day others were being turned away because they were sold out until 2 days later. This was at the end of May.
The museum is not that big so the 2 hours you are allotted is plenty of time. In general I am not a fan of tours or audioguides but I would recommend one for this museum as there were no detailed descriptions about any of the works.
In 1903 the German Emperor William II commissioned a statue to commemorate the Roman sojourn of Goethe and this was placed in Villa Borghese. Other governments followed and meet many world renowned poets: Puskin, in particular seems to enjoy the Roman sunshine and rightly so, as he was used to the never-ending Russian winter nights. The Persian Firdousi and the Egyptian Shawky were more accustomed to a bright light. Many other notables can be found in the busts that adorn Piazza Bucarest on the Villa Borghese's Pincio.
Photo and reference text by Permission Roberto Piperno - granted for non-commercial purpose only. Visit Roberto's website: http://www.romeartlover.it/
This is the largest and most beautiful public park in Rome. It has a perimeter of 6 km.
It was originally created in the seventeenth century for Cardinal Scipione Borghese. In 1901 it became the property of the King Umberto I and later was donated to the city. Its paths and fields wind among lakes, fountains and forested sections. We enjoyed the green and the shade and really enjoyed the fantastic view over the city!
We spent the best part of an afternoon just relaxing in the gardens at Villa Borghese. It was a wonderful way to chill and get some peace and quiet, the park just seems to go on forever. We did have a run-in with some gypsies but they seemed to be fairly isolated and we just gave them a wide berth. Aside from that it was really nice to find a place to relax in the middle of the city.
Villa Borghese is overwhelming in its natural beauty, art treasures and cultural history and sheer size. According to the Herald Tribune: "Until 1902 Villa Borghese, with a circumference of 9 kilometers, was the Borghese family's private property until nationalized by the state in 1903 when it became a public park."
The steady accumulation of property and influence of the Borghese family peaked in 1605. The nephew and heir of Pope Paul IV, Scipione, was made cardinal. Scipione's wealth enabled him to amass one of the greatest art collections ever assembled. Between 1606 and 1619, he built Villa Borghese to display his acquisitions - most notably Bernini and Caravaggio. Only Gallery Borghese boasts 6 Caravaggio canvasses.
The marriage in 1803 of Camillo Borghese to Napoleon's sister, Pauline, was to have great significance. In 1807 Napoleon and Pauline cajoled and bribed Camillo into parting with well more than 500 pieces. It took 2 years to pack and ship them to Paris, where they became the cornerstone of the Louvre's classical collection. Happily for Rome, Napoleon seemed indifferent to Old Masters.
Camillo called on Canova to execute what was to become the sculptor's single most celebrated piece, his portrait figure of Pauline Borghese, reclining semi-naked on a couch as "Venus Victorious." In fact, Camillo got to spend a great deal more time with this sculpture than he did with its subject in the flesh. Within months of their nuptials, Camillo and Pauline's relationship had ended. In the 1780s Marcantonio IV entrusted the Scottish landscape painter Jacob More with the task of transforming part of the park into an English garden, complete with lake and temple. While the local critics were rather sniffy about More's handiwork, it was an instant success with the Romans at large, and in due course provided the backdrop for hundreds of portraits by local and visiting artists.*
SEE OUR TRAVELOGUE FOR MORE SECRETS OF VILLA BORGHESE.
Nice and easily accessible park, just north of Spagna and the famous and elegant Via del Corso. Home to the Galleria Borghese, Museo di Villa Giulia and - one of the newest attractions: a lift-up in a real baloon, to admire Rome from a bird's perspective. Location: Viale dei Cavalli Marini. Ticket price (have a sit and calm down!....): 15 euros for a 15-minute "flight".
Villa Borghese is Rome's version of NYC's Central Park. It is an extremely large park that has numerous places to picnic, stroll, read, or whatever activity you chose. My favorite path is starting in Piazza del Popolo, up to Pincio, down Viale di Oblisk, across the highway on Viale Magnolie and on to Viale di Lago to the beautiful lake there. A wonderful way to enjoy this part of Rome.
I would be amiss if I did not write about the Borghese Gallery and Musuem. It is packed with stunning works by Bernini, Canova, Raphael, amongst many others. It is absolutely amazing to think that one man, Cardinal Scipione Borghese, a nephew to Paul V, owned all of these works. The house itself is a work of art, with its exquiste frescoes, painting and columns. The gardens are not to be missed as well, but spend your time inside with the 2 hour time limit you are given for each visit.
Tickets to the museum have to be reserved at least 2 days in advance, done by internet or phone, and you must pick up your tickets at least 30 minutes in advance. Please note, that, especially in the off-season, you can go directly to the museum and likely be able to get tickets for that day. I was able to go around noon and get tickets for the 3 PM entrance. It is the same price either way.
8.50 Euro for regular entrance
Villa Borghese is the biggest park in Rome - also a big park for any city standards. It's main entry is this beautiful double gate - Porta Pinciana. Villa Borghese is a park where you can walk away from the heat and crowds of the city, you can relax and clear your thoughts on a bench, listening to birds singing. Inside Villa Borghese there is also Galleria Borghese, an important Art Gallery (which I did not visit unfortunately because of the tight schedule)
The Villa Borghese is the largest public park in Rome. The park is located north of the Spanish Steps. Main entrances are at the Piazza del Popolo and the Porta Pinciana at the end of the Via Veneto. The park is a pleasant refuge from the hectic streets in Rome.
Walking through the park you may reach the terrace of Pincio, where you have a beautiful view of the town.
The park also houses the Borghese Museum and Gallery, with some important sculptures of Canova and Bernini and a collection of paintings from several masters including Titian, Rubens and Raphael.
Again, Villa Borghese contains the Modern Art National Museum.
What can I say? Relax and Culture!
This was an art gallery for the Borghese family. They also commissioned artists to do many of these great works. It is because of the patroniage of some of the rich families like this that we have much of this great art. Another unique feature is that here you can see the works displayed in rooms that they were created for. There are a lot of Bernini's sculptures here as well as paintings by Caravaggio, Raphael and Titian. A well known sculpture is of Pauline (Borghese) Bonaparte as Venus. It's by Antonio Canova done in 1808. She posed for the sculptor but once the statue was complete, her husband, Camillo Borghese, kept it locked up. Obviously he didn't want the world to see his wife naked. But now here she is with a whole room dedicated to her.
Our time to go into the Borghese Gallery wasn't until 1pm this afternoon so we spent about 3 hours exploring the grounds. There are monuments made to look like ancient ruins here such as this temple in a small lake. We took our binoculars and looked for birds. We only saw 18 different species so it wasn't as good as we had hoped. But then it is January. The most interesting birds seen were: Short-toed Tree Creeper, Gadwall in the lake, an Eurasian Kestrel chasing a Crow, Long-tailed Tit, Robin and Wren. There are a lot of those beautiful Umbrella Pines, gardens filled with Cyclamen, and beautiful statuary.