Sunday, August 21, 2011

L'Orto Botanico di Roma - Rome's Botanical Garden

Monumental Greenhouse - Orto Botanico di Rome
After living in Rome for the best part of the last ten years I recently visited what is perhaps one of its lesser known sites for the first time and fell instantly in love with the place and knew I had to include it here in the Discover Rome section – the Orto Botanico di Roma or Rome's Botanical Garden.

For those of you who have chosen to make Rome your home or for anybody on a trip to the Eternal City looking for somewhere to simply relax and escape the often chaotic traffic for a couple of hours, Rome's Orto Botantico is the perfect destination. Hugging the gentle slopes of the Gianicolo hill, its main entrance is tucked in behind Via della Lungara and a mere stone's throw away from the thronging heart of Trastevere, on Largo Cristina di Svezia, so named after Queen Christina of Sweden who lived in the neighbouring Palazzo Corsini from 1659-1689 and whose marble bathtub is still in use, albeit as a plant pot, in one of the glasshouses! In the late 13th century Pope Nicholas III established a medicinal herb garden on the site, whilst the present Botanical Garden - now run by the Sapienza University of Rome - was created in 1833 as part of the gardens of Palazzo Corsini.

In the bamboo grove - Orto Botanico di Roma
Spread over 12 hectares, clearly signposted pathways allow the visitor to gently meander through each of the garden's special collections – the bamboo grove and the avenue of palms are particularly spectacular and the Japanese garden a delightful surprise – and eventually reach the peaceful Mediterranean wood, where if it weren't for the splendid views over Rome from the hillside, one could almost forget there was a teeming city outside. And as befitting what were once the private gardens of Palazzo Corsini, there are several Baroque architectural elements: both the Fountain of the Tritons and the Monumental Staircase were built by architect Ferdinando Fuga in the first half of the 18th century. Whilst in a poor state of repair, the monumental staircase divided by a series of cascading fountains – the Scalinata delle Undici Fontane or Zampilli – is an exquisite spot to stop and admire the centuries old plane and oak trees which flank it.

The lovely Monumental Greenhouse is also well worth a visit. Built by Mathian di Lione in France in 1877, it now houses an exquisite climbing Petrea volubilis L. The other glasshouses were mostly closed on my afternoon visit, so be sure to go in the morning to be guaranteed entry into those additional spaces. I will certainly be a regular visitor to the garden from now on! Current opening hours for Rome's Botanical Garden at time of writing are:
  • April - October 9.30am - 6.00pm (Monday - Saturday) 
  • November - March 9.30am - 5.30pm (Monday - Saturday)
Visit the official website for up to date information.

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1 comment:

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

This is somewhere we need to visit, sometime, a lovely place to wander around. :)

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