Villa Borghese is the place in Rome to run to when you need to unleash your child or inner child. Sprawling over 148 acres of meadows, Villa Borghese is one of Rome’s largest parks. Formerly the private estate of the Borghese family, the late 19th century Italian unification transformed the grounds into one of Italy’s most beloved public parks and maintained the family’s private collections as public museums.
Walk the Line: On the perimeter of the park, the Villa Giulia (Etruscan art) and Gallery Borghese (Renaissance and Baroque collection) are home to two of Rome’s largest jewels of museums boasting priceless antiquities and Caravaggio paintings. In addition, the National Gallery of Modern Art sits just north of the Villa Borghese boasting Italy’s seminal collection of Italian modern art.
Find some shade: Casa del Cinema’s outdoor café, for liquid refreshments and a film, in its indoor screening rooms or outdoor screen (summer). Across the way is an old-fashioned carousel, quadri-cycle and bicycle rentals (with pick up and drop stations are through out the park). The electric St. Peter’s train—seating children and adults– runs from nearby Viale Goethe across to Galleria Borghese. In the park’s very center is the Giardino del Lago, Garden of the Lake, whose 20- minute long row boat rides are romantic and quaint. The Viale delle Magnolie, lined with monumental magnolia tree, northeastern area, leads to the turn-of-the-century Casina dell’Orologio, an old-fashioned caffe and clock tower with delicious lunch menu and homemade gelato. Here you can bike, roller blade and skate (all rentals), or enjoy the theatre in miniature– Teatro Marionette San Carlino, an opera house miniature for puppet shows. Nearby is is a reconstruction of a Globe Theatre, with summer evening performances of Shakespeare’s finest, in Italian.
In the eastern side of the park near the Valle dei Cucioli, Rome’s famous puppy park, is the Bioparco di Roma, a 100-year-old zoo and conservation center. The Piazza di Siena, arace track which hosts events including its famous May equestrian show, is always a great place for a picnic and the Casina di Raffaello may just be the best place to hang with your children on a rainy day.