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, can be likened to a 148-acre (80-hectare) summary of European Medieval/post-Medieval history.

Villa Borghese's story was seen time and again throughout Europe: 

Initially, common people use specific land/goods for purposes of daily living (in this case, grape-growing).

Then, persons of religious or monarchical power usurp or force-purchase said land/goods (in this case, “purchase” by Cardinal Scipione Borghese).

For as long as possible, those in power who suddenly hold the land/goods vehemently protect it and exploit it for personal gain. They typically allow access only to others of wealth, power or privilege, with perhaps occasional access for commoners (in this case, nobility only, except Sundays and holidays).

The powerful continue to amass riches relating to the land/goods they took or force-purchased (in this case, ongoing collecting of valuable works of art on the property). 

Eventually, commoners or a civic power re-take the land/goods (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!

Want more Rome?

After contemplating European history in Villa Borghese, why not enjoy a modern classic, too? Head to one of Rome's 850+ gelaterias, beginning 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!

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