Villa Borghese ☆☆

The laghetto with an 18C Temple of Aesculapius, Villa Borghese, Rome, Italy (Photo by Pierre-Selim Huard)
The laghetto with an 18C Temple of Aesculapius

The Villa Borghese is Rome's version of Central Park—only with more museums

Rome's greatest central green lung is the Villa Borghese park, 226 acres of gardens, statue- and bust-lined paths, fountains, artificial lakes, a zoo, and theaters (including a replica of Shakepseare's Globe—performances in Italian only, though).

This being Rome, the park also contains a number of foreign academies, institutes, and museums, the best of which are mentioned below.

Renting a bike in Villa Borghese park

It's a pretty big park, so I like to get around by renting a bike.

I usually hit the Bici Pincio octagonal kiosk at the southeast corner of the Pincio area where Viale dell'Orolorgio meets Viale Medici, though here are other rental locations in the park: Viale dei Bambini at Via di Villa Medici; Viale JW Goethe, Piazzale M. Cervantes, Viale dell'Uccelleria near the Galleria Borghese (tel. 339-602-0432; Ascolbike.com), and on Via delle Belle Arti near the Biparco and the Modern Art Museum (tel. 06-881-0219; Ronconibiciclette.it)

Bikes cost about €4 ($4) an hour, or €10 ($11) for the day.

Another favorite activity: rent a paddleboat on the small lake with its weensy 19th-century Greek-style temple on a mini-island (€3 ($3) for 20 min.).

The Pincio and the puppet shows

The Villa Borghese is sub-divided into several different park areas. Make sure you make time for the terraced 19th-century Pincio Gardens rising above Piazza del Popolo.

It offers great views, a nifty old merry-go-round,and an old fashioned Teatro del Burattino (puppet theater) on Viale dei Bambini Villa Borghese, with shows Saturdays and Sundays, and occasionally other days (closed Jan and Aug).

Photo gallery
  • The laghetto with an 18C Temple of Aesculapius, Villa Borghese, Italy (Photo by Pierre-Selim Huard)
  • The Villa Borghese
  • The Fontana della Conca, or Fontana delll
  • The Scalinata del Pincio leading up to the park from Piazza del Popolo, Villa Borghese, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • The Villa Borghese Water Clock on the Pincio, Villa Borghese, Italy (Photo by Karelj)
  • The Temple of Diana, built by Antonio Asprucci in 1789, Villa Borghese, Italy (Photo by Burkhard Mücke)
  • Oriental Plane trees (actually Old World sycamore), Villa Borghese, Italy (Photo by Patafisik)
  • , Villa Borghese, Italy (Photo by Burkhard Mücke)
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Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for sightseeing

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is?... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the museum il museo eel moo-ZAY-yo
...the church la chiesa lah key-YAY-zah
...the cathedral il duomo [or] la cattedrale eel DUO-mo [or] lah cah-the-DRAH-leh
     
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
Closed day giorno di riposo JOR-no dee ree-PO-zo
Weekdays (Mon-Sat) feriali fair-ee-YA-lee
Sunday & holidays festivi fe-STEE-vee
     
ticket biglietto beel-YET-toh
two adults due adulti DOO-way ah-DOOL-tee
one child un bambino oon bahm-BEE-no
one student uno studente OO-noh stu-DENT-ay
one senior un pensionato oon pen-see-yo-NAH-toh

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
     
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
     
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
     
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
     
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
     
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah


* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).

 

Sights in the Villa Borghese

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The Imperial Room, with Bernini's Rape of Persephone (Photo by Damian Entwistle)
Galleria Borghese
Rome: Via Veneto & Villa Borghese

Rome's Borghese Gallery is packed with amazing works by Bernini, Caravaggio, and Raphael, and ranks as one of my top three small museums in the world

 
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Etruscan sarcophagus, with a terracotta couple, from the 7C BC (Photo by Damian Entwistle)
Villa Giulia
Rome: Outside the walls

An antiquities museum in the Villa Borghese park

 
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Tiger (Photo by leastbutnotlast)
Bioparco
Rome: Via Veneto & Villa Borghese

Rome's zoo in the Villa Borghese

 
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 (Photo by Sailko)
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna
Rome: Outside the walls

A national gallery of modern and contemporary art