Farnese Gardens

One of Europe’s oldest botanical gardens, this outdoor space boasts charming Renaissance architecture and superb views over the Roman Forum.

Filled with pretty hedgerows, fragrant flowerbeds and commanding views across the city, the peaceful Farnese Gardens is an excellent place for a stroll. Admire the elegant twin aviaries and learn about the archaeological excavation taking place nearby.

The gardens takes their name from Cardinal Alessandro Farnese who acquired the land in 1550 and had a luxurious villa built here. The surrounding gardens were designed by architect Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola and were among the first private botanical gardens to be built in Europe.

As you approach the gardens, look for evidence of a large excavation project on the site. This project has been ongoing since the 19th century and is a result of the gardens’ position on top of the 1st-century palace of Tiberius.

In spite of the archaeological work that has taken place, the gardens are still a pleasant place for a wander, with plenty of walkways and a wide variety of plants. Stand in the shade of sweet-smelling pine trees and follow perfectly trimmed hedges that lead past colorful blooms.

Continue up the hill to reach the twin aviaries at the top. These identical square pavilions have a typical Renaissance design with white plaster walls and a sloped tile roof. Step through the narrow arched entrances and marvel at the fabulous views back down the hill. From here, see the many buildings of the vast Roman Forum as well as various landmarks around the city including the Colosseum, a few miles east.

To get to the Farnese Gardens, ride the metro or local buses. The closest bus stop to the Farnese Gardens is Via dei Fori Imperiali. From here, it is a 10-minute walk south to the gardens past the Forum. If arriving on foot, climb the steps from the Roman Forum at the northwest end of Palatine Hill. The gardens are open year-round and there is an entrance fee.

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