When the columns and the frescoes begin to leave you cold, there is an undiscovered gem nestled beneath the heights of Gianicolo: The Botanical Gardens of Rome. Situated near the Bohemian maze of streets that make up Trastevere, the Gardens represent an oasis of calm within the Metropolitan craziness. From the ancient Via della Lungara leads a small, quiet street lined with palms from which the gates of the Gardens are almost imperceptible.
Upon entrance you will see the ticket cabin, your last reminder of modern technologies. You’ll be greeted by a warm Roman smile as you are handed a brief map and guide for the sights you are about to see. The Gardens start subtly. The plants are small and familiar. However, as you begin to walk the grandeur of the Fontana dei Tritoni will immediately catch your eye. The fountain consists of two intricately sculptured Tritons built around 1750 by Fuga. Here you can see paddling the family of exotically coloured ducks that call the Gardens home. Further along the path comes the Rose Garden. Many of the species date from the Baroque Period (during the 17th and 18th centuries) at the time of the Gardens establishment. Next, there is a collection of ferns both European and East Asian in origin. A hickory tree and some maples sway above them. Continuing the Asian theme is the Bamboo section, which comes with its own guide book (available at the ticket office). The ‘Rocky Garden’ is a special collection of plants that grow in high mountainous areas such as the Alps, Pyrenees, Carpathians, Himalayas, Caucasus, Andes and Rocky Mountains. The group of plants from the Apennines provide a specific example of the flora of Central Italy. Through this rocky area wind ornamental irises rich with vibrant colour. Nearby stands the beautiful Renaissance splendour of the Fountain of Aqua Paola. Another perfect place to stand and contemplate.
A panorama of Rome can be spectacularly viewed from the minimal surroundings of The Japanese Garden. This recent addition to the Gardens (constructed between 1990 and 1994) features a 17th century niche and leads on towards a wooden area that is the only remnant of the forest that once covered the city. Here can be seen a tree of almost 500 years of age. The history of Rome’s Botanical Garden The garden Originated in 1511 when an ancient family of Dukes and Cardinals, The Riaro Family, built the actual Palazzo Corsini on the eastern side of Gianicolo hill. Christine of Sweden lived here from 1659 till 1689. In 1736, the palace was bought from the Corsini family (Pope Clemente XII’s family), at the price of 70,000 Roman shields. The garden was donated to the State by the Corsini family, in 1872, and was then opened as a botanical garden. Today the palace is the site of the Galleria Corsini and the National Accademy of Lincei.
The Botanical Garden of Rome is an oasis of bio-diversity, in which slow and constant evolution is respected, according the creator’s, biologist Ronaldo Pirotta’s, intentions. The aim of the garden is the study and conservation of genetic diversity and the evaluation of environmental education. The collection of plants from every continent, sub-tropical regions, temperate and cold ones, actually contains around 3,500 species cultivated in open gardens or in greenhouses. There are important permanent collections of Cactus, water plants, carnivorous plants, orchids and palms. The garden also has some temporary exhibitions of tropical flowers and artistic pictures of flowers.
L.go Cristina di Svezia 24
(Villa Corsini) 00165 Roma
Fax. +39 0668323000
hours: 9:30am-5:30pm (Winter),
Greenhouses close at 1:00pm
Closed on Sundays and Mondays, and in August.
Reservation and tickets :
ticket: Euro 3.00 ‘
by Alex Birrell and Massimiliano Oddi
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