Rome is filled with two things: tourists and hidden gems. In this article, I will help you dodge the crowds and explore one of Rome’s best kept secrets – the Pamphili Park.
My love for Rome is endless. Its warm climate works well with my mood (and my very optimistic spring-like wardrobe). Its people are amongst the friendliest I have ever encountered. The wine is amazing (and affordable!), and oh, don’t even get me started on the food…
Well, ok, if you insist. I’ve spent so many mornings picking up an espresso (I take mine double, no sugar) and a slice of pizza from my local café while desperately trying to make it to my lecture on time. There’s been plenty of lunches involving chilled white wine, fresh mozzarella and juicy tomatoes in the gentle October sun. Their pasta is world class. The pizza too, by the way. And I loved the tradition of browsing and tasting my way around the various stalls in the food markets on Sunday mornings, eagerly looking for fresh and local vegetables.
I love Rome, of course I do. But chances are that you, as a tourist desperately eager to explore the very best of the Eternal City in less than 72 hours, will not be able to experience the Rome that I fell in love with. My Rome. And to be quite frank, my Rome does not happen in the insanely long lines to the Colosseum, nor does it exist in the over-priced restaurants around the Spanish Steps or the Pantheon. My Rome is of a different kind, and in this article I want to share with you one of must-see hidden spots in Rome.
Must-Do in Rome: Picnic in The Pamphili Gardens
The gardens of Villa Doria Pamphili is said to be one of the most beautiful parks in Rome. However, this is a place that few tourists ever get to experience. The Pamphili gardens is a place where the Romans go – here they do their daily evening run, here they have a nap in the sun in the early afternoon, and here they take their little ones on picnic and playdates during the weekends. The Pamphili gardens is a place I carry so much love for, and in this article I’m delighted to share it with you.
We used to go up to Pamphili Park after lectures on Wednesday evenings. We’d stop at a local pizzeria to pick up a wee selection of pizza slices and ice cold beer, then we’d laugh, drink and eat away the rest of the evening, casually lounging under the shade of a magnificent tree.
The Pamphili Garden, and its grande palazzo Villa Doria Pamphili, is located on the Gianicolo Hill, in the area of Monteverde. In other words, it’s just far enough to remove you from all the endless buzzing of the tourists. The main building, the palace, was built in the 1600s, and the owner soon started buying all the areas of land that surrounded it. Architects were hired to construct the most beautiful garden ever created. Soon, the gardens were known by the locals as Bel Respiro – beautiful air.
In 1644, Cardinal Giambattista Pamphili, of the powerful Pamphili family, was elected Pope (you might know him better as Innocent X). His family, thrilled with the new power, money and status they suddenly received, decided to develop the gardens even further.
It is their developments and architectural choices, their garden, you can explore today.
Today, you can walk past decaying sculptures, old fountains, a garden labyrinth, an old Theater, and the Pamphili family’s very own chapel. In other words, it is a chapel fit for a pope. And so is the palazzo. A walk in the Pamphili gardens is a walk through the grandness that used to exist in the 1600s.
Despite the obvious decay, it’s almost impossible to ignore the grandness that used to inhabit the gardens. In other words, this is a place you will most likely never forget.
If you are looking for more unforgettable experiences in Rome, you should check out the 25 Best Things to Do in Rome.
How to get to the Pamphili Gardens:
From Trastevere, walk up to the Gianicolo Hill, and then head straight past the impressive Garibaldi monument. You cannot miss it.