Open Wide the World


Rome's Villa Borghese, Then & Now - a photo essay

Villa Borghese - Then

Villa Borghese, one of Rome's three largest public parks, is like a 148-acre (80-hectare) summary of European Medieval/post-Medieval history.

Its story is seen time and again throughout Europe: 

  • land/goods being used by common people for purposes of daily living (in this case, grape-growing); 
  • the purchase or usurpation of land/goods by persons of religious or monarchical power (in this case, "purchase" by Cardinal Scipione Borghese); 
  • the vehement protection and personal exploitation of said land/goods, for use by only the most privileged, and perhaps occasional access to commoners (in this case, nobility only, except Sundays and holidays);
  • continued amassment of riches relating to the land/goods (in this case, ongoing collecting of valuable works of art); 
  • and an eventual seizure of land/goods by a civic power (in this case, confiscation by the fairly newly established Italian State, with subsequent transfer to the City of Rome).

Villa Borghese - Now

Today's park visitors may know little of the park's first 300+ years, or of its parallels to general European history. However, what any visitor in the most recent 100 years will easily note is the park's ability to capture the daily life of the modern city dweller; Romans being Roman in their beloved Villa Borghese park:

After contemplating European history in Villa Borghese, why not enjoy a modern classic, too? Head to one of Rome's 850+ gelaterias, with our top recommendations for gelato in Rome!

Fascinated by the story of Villa Borghese's origins?

Would you believe NYC's Central Park has a similar story? Check out our post on Central Park's dark history, too!

Be ready for Rome!

We participate in Amazon's affiliate program, which allows sites to earn advertising fees. There is no additional cost to readers making Amazon purchases through our site.