Parks in Rome make the city more than a destination of stimulating architectural jewels.
Interspersed between its timeless monuments, and delectable culinary offerings (not to mention its eye-rolling coffee and wine traditions), are manicured and verdant retreats.
Roman Central Parks: A Get Away for Kids
While the Eternal City’s portfolio of greenery is an option for any type of visitor, the open gardens provide a space for the boundless energy of children. Understandably, the regimented rooms and corridors of many a museum are not always fitting vessels for the natural vitality of kids.
Parks therefore, are a respite for little ones to unleash their imaginations. For those of you who enjoy indulging in your own inner child, then activities such as cycling, rowing, or jogging are also at your disposal.
The below is a comprehensive collection of Rome’s best parks for connecting with the family, getting your blood pumping, or simply lounging on a blanket and observing mini versions of you practice their headstands.
Don’t forget to check out the relevant Joy of Rome tours that will make your park adventures even greater!
Villa Doria Pamphili
The largest of Rome’s landscaped parks, the Villa Doria Pamphili is a sprawling haven of greenery that’s centrally located. Mounted in the residential area of Monteverde, it spills near Trastevere, and even the Vatican.
Its proximity to the Holy See isn’t just logistical.
The park originally belonged to the aristocratic Pamphili family in the 17th century, whose noted relative was Giovanni Battista Pamphili.
He later become Pope Innocent the X in 1644, and even inspired a jarring work by Francis Bacon. Entitled, Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, it features him screaming on the papal throne.
Thankfully, there’s more going on with the park than distorted images of popes.
A baroque-style villa still overlooks lemon trees, manicured bushes, and water fountains which are now used decoratively. However, smaller water fountains that are still functional provide clean drinking water for those who stroll, run, bike ride, or recline in a palatial setting that is off of the beaten track.
The Villa Doria Pamphili is a resource that is picturesque, yet culturally and historically important. Follow Joy of Rome’s Trastevere and Villa Farnesina, and Vatican tours (including the Vatican for Kids) to put it into greater context.
For some intrigue, the courtesans tour provides insight into the unknown, yet powerful women of a bygone Rome, and how they crossed paths with the popes.
Villa Borghese Park
The well-tended grounds of Villa Borghese also count as one of the city’s biggest parks.
Found north of the Spanish Steps, its entrances beckon passersby from Piazza Flaminio (by the imposing Piazza del Popolo), and the Porta Pinciana and the end of the stylish Via Veneto.
Explore its full expanse by bike or boat, as rental services for both are offered for family fun. Gliding onto the park’s central pond allows a unique and aquatic perspective that is heightened by the ducks who are used to doting attention and free bread.
Small rides such as carousels can also entertain the kids while they indulge in drinks and snacks sold from small kiosks.
However, Villa Borghese isn’t just a pretty park of stunning temples, fountains, statues, and generous lanes.
It’s also known for some of Italy’s most renowned museums.
On its 148 acres of land are the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Museo Nazionale Etrusco, and most famously, the the Museo e Galleria Borghese.
Art lovers can join Joy of Rome’s Borghese Gallery Tour to sight masterpieces by Bernini, Canova, Raphael, Rubens, and Titian.
Castel Sant’ Angelo
While a castle that used to be a mausoleum doesn’t immediately sound kid friendly, there’s more to it than meets the eye.
Originally constructed as the resting place for Emperor Hadrian, it was converted into a fortress by Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th century. Inspired by a dream the pope had of being visited by an angel, the structure now offers the Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo, and a heavenly view of Rome.
Not only does the eye follow the ribbony-trail of the Tiber River, but it’s also met with the hulking mass of the Vatican just down the road.
Its ageless rooms can be rented out for special occasions and events, and once a year the passage that directly links it to the Holy See is open to the public.
You’re probably thinking: Yeah, yeah, but what does this have to do with parks?
Surrounding it are lofty cypress trees that stand sentinel to a rush of grass, and a playground. How often do you find swings, seesaws, and a slide literally behind one of the most recognisable and iconic structures that spans both ancient and modern Rome?
Let the kids scamper to their hearts’ content while also soaking up some history. Dan Brown fans can also secretly gush about parenting or babysitting on one of the central elements from Angels and Demons.
Unsurprisingly, the experts at Joy of Rome offer its riveting Castel Sant Angelo Tour to truly appreciate this multifaceted monument. Simply pop a few blocks further down, and also partake in the Vatican tour to see how these neighbours got along.
The Park of the Aqueducts
If you are interested in these beautiful and functional engineering masterpieces, you will not want to miss the Aqueduct Park!
An archaeological gem located in the Regional Park of the Appia Antica. Spread over 600 acres, the park houses six of the eleven aqueducts from antiquity plus one built during the Renaissance: the aqueduct Felice.
This was built by Pope Felice Peretti (Sixtus V) to bring the water to Rome and named after him. This Pope reused and restored the archway of the ancient aqueduct Marcio, originally the third aqueduct in Rome, built in 144 BC by the praetor Quinto Marcio Re.
The park stretches within the modern Roman city between Via Appia and Via Tuscolana. Hidden from view by the park’s trees are not only aqueducts but also many other buildings from both Roman and Medieval times. Our guides will take you on an exploration of the “Tomb of the Hundred Steps” and the picturesque railway station, Rome-Frascati, inaugurated by Pope Pius IX in 1856.
If you want to know more, explore it with our walking tour of the Park.
Giardino degli Aranci
The name of this tasty park translates into the ‘Orange Garden’, a popular moniker after the slew of orange trees that decorate the grounds.
While its space can most certainly accommodate games of tag, and a quick rest for mom and dad, it’s also known for one of the best panoramic views of the city.
As such, its scented air and dreamlike setting makes it a popular spot for romance, and tentative first dates.
With a vista including the Tiber River, the historical centre, and the peaking crown of St. Peter’s Basilica, the culmination of culture, history, and the magic of beautiful things will emit a deep sigh from the whole family.
The only problem is that you have the entire city to explore in front of you. As a Joy of Rome guide put it, it’s close to everything!
After your restorative time at the Giardino degli Arancini, take advantage of your central location and join either the Secrets of the Colosseum, any of the Ancient Rome options, Trastevere and Villa Farnesina, the Capitoline Museums, Highlights of Rome, Sense of the City, Jewish District, or a new arrival, Bread and Circus, which is also family friendly.
Plant lovers rejoice in a beguiling and small forest that’s located right near the city centre.
The slopes of the Gianicolo hill, which overlook Trastevere, support a rich, exotic, and aromatic selection of plants, trees, and flowers that have hosted queens and conquerors.
Now tended to by the Department of Environmental Biology of the Sapienza University, its 30 acres were originally cultivated in the 19th century. Visitors can explore their olfactory awesomeness in the garden of aromas, whose fragrant flowers represent unique species known for their pleasing smells.
Bamboo enthusiasts can appreciate a Japanese zen garden, while a rose garden woos the romantic within.
Yet, the natural and serene settings of the Gianicolo Hill impressed as far back as the 17th century.
The diminutive yet opulent structure of the Palazzo Riario-Corsini was built in the 1600s, and is still perched atop what is now the Botanical Garden.
However, it once hosted esteem guests such as Queen Christina of Sweden after she abdicated her throne. Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s older brother, also resided there, and later became the King of Sicily, Naples, and Spain.
Just like the other parks and green spaces, the Botanical Garden is an open, unique setting for children to rejoice and learn in. Also extremely centrally located, it lends itself to spending more time with our trusted and fun guides.
While the focus of this blog post is family, and exploring Rome through its villas, gardens, parks and stunning views, there are other tours to help you appreciate this special place.
Research Joy of Rome’s dedicated site for other options that help strengthen you and your family’s experiences in the Eternal City.