The Eternal City's largest park, with landscaped gardens and lots of green space.
A visit to Rome can be exhausting, given the summer heat, baroque overload, tourist stampedes and the mock gladiators browbeating you for pictures. Most visitors at some point end up in the well-known Villa Borghese, which is still crowded and where itinerant balloon salesmen descend like vultures upon families with kids. Villa Pamphili is Rome's other park, where Romans go to run, play and relax, free of tourists and touts.
Villa Pamphili is literally off the map. Most tourist maps of central Rome barely show a tip of the park, just behind the Gianicolo. In fact, Villa Pamphili is walking distance from central Rome, in the Monteverde neighbourhood, a stroll up the hill from Trastevere. Map.
|The main entrance near Porta San Pancrazio.|
It started off as a little casino (small country house) but when Giambattista Pamphilj managed to get himself elected Pope Innocent X in 1644, clearly such a humble dacha was insufficient for the successor to St Peter. (Being a servant of God rarely stopped Popes from desiring a bit of bling and luxury to pamper themselves.)
(As an aside, you may have seen Innocent X's face before- there's a famous portrait by Velasquez, and Innocent received a second round of posthumous fame when Francis Bacon painted him as the Screaming Pope)
A new villa was built and this is the one that still stands today at the heart of Villa Pamphili. Although built when Baroque was very much the flavour du jour, the villa is more Mannerist/Renaissance in style, and is still known as the Casino (but don't get too excited- there's no Black Jack or roulette in sight.)
Of course, what use is a country villa if you can't go for a stroll? The building is surrounded by a 'secret garden', manicured grounds, lemon trees, a few follies and a (now defunct) water grotto.
Over the years, the Pamphilj descendants (now called Doria-Pamphilj after a successful merger with another aristocratic family facing slow decline, hence the official name of the park) extended the grounds. Later on, bits were acquired by the City of Rome and the Italian state and since 1972 the park is open to everybody, noble or not.
|The Secret Garden is hidden behind a wall- unfortunately it's so secret that you can't go inside. The Casino is closed as well.|
Jogging and cycling are both popular activities. Lazing about, dolce far niente, is too.
|Dolce far niente next to an egg on a pillar(?!)|
|Tall umbrella pines are a distinctly Roman feature of the park.|
|Joggers follow the Aquaduct Traian-Paul.|
|Open-air concerts take place in front of the Palazzo Corsini.|
Walk up from Trastevere to the Gianicolo using the steep steps of Via di Porte San Pancrazio, stopping for the breathtaking view of Rome at Pope Paul V's marble fontanone (big fountain). Continue towards Porte San Pancrazio, a massive stone arch, and continue a little further. Map.
For those who are tired of walking, several buses pass the main entrance, including 710 and 870.
Villa Pamphili walking tour