Today (Wednesday) was a beautiful day outside (in the 60s) and I had the afternoon free so I spent sometime exploring Villa Borghese, a large public park in Rome, formerly a private villa for the Borghese family. It is the second largest public park in the city, following Villa Doria Pamphili, which I wandered upon this past Sunday. I had a great time just walking around and enjoying the weather. It was a nice retreat from the dense and busy city and made me think of a lot of other retreat parks in urban areas in the US, as well as large city parks that include many different civic and cultural attractions such as zoos and museums.
While Villa Borghese was originally a private suburban party villa for Scipione Borghese, it is now public and includes the Bioparco (zoo), National Gallery of Modern Art, and other smaller villas from the 1911 world exposition here. Relatable examples in the US would be Forest Park in St. Louis, City Park in Denver, and of course the great lakefront parks in Chicago. Closer to home I was reminded of Bever Park and Ellis Park in Cedar Rapids that were originally suburban parks to provide a public retreat from the city. Bever Park also includes a zoo that at one time had a pretty impressive collection of animals.
I spent about two hours strolling around Villa Borghese and then walked back along Via Vittorio Veneto, a street I went down on the bus ride there. It is a very attractive, well-kept (and expensive) area that feels more Parisian than Roman. Wide clean sidewalks, separated from the street by grass medians and flowerbeds, accommodate several permanent pavilions for restaurant dining areas.
It was a very nice afternoon. I look forward to spending more time outside in Rome as the weather continues to get nicer as we head into spring. See photos from today here.