By Charlie McCabe
My wife and I had the good fortune of traveling to Greece, Turkey, and Italy on a cruise over the last two weeks of November and ended up in Rome for a few days before heading home. (Note to self: Check to see if Italian train system is on strike whenever returning to Italy. The same applies to any trip to France.)
While Rome is blessed with many cobblestone squares and pedestrian-priority streets, it has few parks in the core of the city. I don't include the many Roman ruins sites; while they are park-like, most require an admission charge to enter and there are very real limits to where you can go and what you can do, given their historic nature. The parks that do exist are located farther out from the city center and are primarily former estates of wealthy families.
This Rome park was the Gardens of the Villa Borghese, just under 200 acres and housing a well-known art museum as well as a number of other destinations. It's formal in terms of layout but has a number of historic buildings and structures, plus lots of greenery. (The picture above shows a soccer pitch carved out of a formal lawn area.)
Some of the buildings are in poor shape. This was an old caretaker's building, with a multi-person pedal bike concession surrounding it. The park is in good to fair condition and is well-used, even on a Friday afternoon in early December. Signage at the many intersections inside the park is really good, as shown below.
The park is bisected by a few roads, one that runs below grade, much like the transects in Central Park in New York; another that was a surface street and a challenge to cross on foot. As you can see from my picture below, it has some pretty impressive stone walls.
There's definitely some ill-advised (or downright negligent) tree trimming going on, but I saw this on many street trees and in other smaller parks. It seems to be tradition to either overly thin the tree canopy or top it outright. Argh.
Topped trees: Don't do this!
This practice (above) also seems questionable. While it looks kind of cool, it's depriving the tree of a mature canopy to do its thing.
Still, it's always great to see plenty of activity in a destination park in a large city—people walking, running, biking, chatting, walking dogs, visiting museums, and more. We're glad we visited.
© Copyright 2023, Charlie McCabe Consulting, LLC.