A Dozen Facts & Secrets About Villa Borghese in Rome, Italy

Rome is spectacular, it's full or art and monuments, and it's busy! What with the noise and hubbub, it'a nice to escape — to the heart of the city! Villa Borghese is one of the largest parks in Rome and home to some of the best museums in Italy. This is the place to see Romans at leisure — cycling, strolling, or lounging in shaded open areas for long picnics.

The Villa Borghese recalls the splendour of the past with sculptures, monuments, and fountains from the baroque and neoclassical eras. All of this happens amid ancient pines, romantic lakes & secret gardens. Also called "Museum Park", Villa Borghese is home to several top-notch museums, including Galleria Borghese. Let's get started with some fun facts and other secrets of the Villa Borghese in Rome, Italy.

1. It's Not a Villa – It's a Park

It's a Park

Villa Borghese is actually not a villa but an elegant park in Rome, Italy. Go figure.

The wealthy and somewhat scandalous Cardinal Scipione Borghese created the park in the 1600s as a showpiece for his collection of art. His villa is called the Galleria Borghese, now a famous and exclusive art museum.

2. Seven Entrances

There are seven entrances to the park — Via Aldrovandi, Via Raimondi, Via Pinciana, Piazzale San Paulo, Piazzale Flaminio, Piazzale Cervantes, Piazzale Pablo Picasso (Via Giulia Valle).

3. There's a 42-acre Biopark

Bioparco di Roma holds a vast collection of mammals, reptiles and birds including a rare and nearly extinct Egyptian tortoise.

4. It Was Private Until 1902

Villa Borghese was private property until Umberto I, king of Italy came to power. There was a lengthy dispute between the Borghese family and the Italian state. The state eventually won after a long legal battle and the entire complex was given to the city of Rome in 1902.

5. Restorations

Secret gardens, historic buildings, the Casino of Graziano, the Casino Giustiniani, the Aviary and Meridiana have been faithfully restored according to the original seventeenth-century plans.

6. Thanks, Prince!

Piazza di Siena velodrome

Prince Marcantonio V in 1775 set about modernizing the Galleria Borghese as well as the park (Villa Borghese).

He supervised the creation of the Lake Garden, the Piazza di Siena hippodrome, clay pigeon shooting at the Deer Park, and restaurants.

7. Shakespeare in the Park

See the Globe Theatre…Roman style. This theatre is based on the Elizabethan theater model with Shakespearian programming. The extensive theatrical pavilion is found near Piazza di Siena.

8. Casa del Cinema

Set among pine trees is Casa del Cinema, a school dedicated to the world of filmmaking that offers screenings, as well as film editing and directing classes. While you're there, take a break at the outdoor Cinecaffe.

9. Garden of the Lake

The romantic artificial island in the Garden of the Lake overlooks the Temple of Aesculapius (modelled after an ancient Roman temple) and is accessible by a short boat ride.

10. Pietro Canonica Museum

In 2015 the Pietro Canonica Museum was inaugurated in Villa Borghese. It houses eighty works from the Borghese collection — architecture, fountains, and furnishings.

11. Equestrians Welcome

Piazza di Siena is the home arena for Rome's (and Italy's) top equestrian event, held annually in at the end of May.

12. Three Top Museums

Relax in the Villa Borghese, but also seek out three of Rome's best museums — Galleria Borghese, Villa Giulia, (the Etruscan museum), and the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna.