Things to see and do in Villa Borghese

Villa Borghese is one of Rome’s most popular parks and, endearingly, shaped like a heart. Nestled right in the centre of the city – aptly – it’s accessible from the top of the biggest shopping street, where Via del Corso meets Piazza del Popolo, and through the impressive marble pillar gates off the once exclusive, Via Veneto. So it’s on point for location. For a bit of context, originally, Villa Borghese was one of Cardinal Scipione Borghese’s many private vineyards surrounding his villa and was later turned into a park in 1605. Its sweeping natural and English-classic landscape, as we see today, was not actually in its initial design but was changed in the 1800s to fit in with the fashions of the time. The English heritage architecture and ponds provide a romantic backdrop to your park life, with the Lake Garden and Plain of Oaks to be enjoyed; there’s so much to see and do that you could easily spend all day there. Why not rent a row boat and row across the lake, or feed the ducks with your kids? There’s plenty of other places to explore in Villa Borghese; there’s a reason it’s dubbed the park of museums by locals. Full of cultural outlets to discover Rome’s rich history of art, sculpture and all things ‘refined’ there’s a tiny cinema, a prestigious art gallery and museum and even a zoo. Il Cinema dei Piccoli – The Tiny Cinema This little green house in the heart of Villa Borghese is a must-see for the kids – and is the smallest cinema in the world, according to the Guinness World Book of Records. With afternoon screenings of kid’s films and evening showings of adult popular culture it’s a great one if you’re semi-fluent in Italian as all the films are dubbed. With no subtitles. Even if you don’t stay for a screening, it’s a fun place to stick your head through the door if anything. Viale della Pineta, 15 (+39 06 8553485) Wednesday to Friday 5pm and 6:30pm; Saturday and Sunday 3:30pm, 5pm and 6:30pm. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Teatro Marionette San Carlino – San Carlino Puppet Theatre Indulge in Italy’s version of Punch and Judy and take your little ones over to the Marionette Theatre, or theatre of the puppets. In true Colombina and Pulcinello style, watch this puppet show throughout the week in this small theatre with hand painted backdrops and props. Viale dei Bambini, Pincio (+39 06 3335320) Bookings are necessary. Bioparco di Roma – Rome Conservation Zoo 106 years old, Rome’s Zoo has undergone huge transformations over the years from its original Hagenbeck design (where cages were replaced with large pits) to now a well-respected zoological conservation with numerous enclosures of a wide range of exotic animals. It’s a great place to spend a few hours and stroll around the lions, giraffes and Bengal tigers – and there are plenty of interactive exhibitions for the kids to get involved with, especially if you catch some of the feeding shows too. Viale del Giardino Zoologico, 20 (+39 06 360 8211) Galleria Borghese – Borghese Gallery This famous gallery was once a collection by the Borghese family that dates back 2,000 years. There’s an eclectic mix of items and artefacts within the museum and gallery that spans 2,000 years, through the Renaissance period and up to contemporary exhibitions. It’s the largest collection of private art in the world and features masterpieces from Caravaggio, Raphael, Botticelli and Bernini. Piazzale del Museo , Borghese, 5 (+39 06 32810) Free entry with the OMNIA Vatican & Rome Pass but you must pre-book an allocated entry time before you arrive. Monday to Friday, 9:00 to 18:00 – Saturdays, 9:00 to 13:00

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