The Pincio Gardens (Monte Pincio)

View from the Pincio gardens View of Piazza del Popolo from the Pincio gardens

The Pincio gardens, on the western edge of the Villa Borghese, were laid out in the early 19th century by the architect Giuseppe Valadier, working on the orders of Napoleon. Exploring the gardens can make a pleasant way to while away half an hour, especially as part of a trip to the larger park of the Villa Borghese. There is a bewildering array of transport available - you can ride the "train" (actually a doctored 4x4) or rent a bicycle, a peddle car or a go-cart.

Things to See

The paths of the Pincio gardens are lined with busts of famous Italians, in various states of disrepair - Petrarch, for example, has had his nose and chin broken and badly replaced, and has also grown a marker-pen moustache. On Viale dell'Orologio there is Giovanni Embriaco's water clock, built in 1867. Children might enjoy the puppet theatre, which has regular performances (see signs outside the theatre for details). The obelisk in the centre of the park is thought to be an early Roman copy, commissioned in the 2nd century AD by Hadrian as a tribute to his dead lover Antinous. It was placed here on the Pincian Hill by Pope Pius VII in 1822.

Finally, the Piazza Napoleone commands an excellent view over the Piazza del Popolo, with St Peter's Basilica visible in the distance. It's a romantic place to watch the sunset.

Visiting the Pincio Gardens

The Pincio Gardens are at the western edge of the Villa Borghese, next to Piazza del Popolo. The nearest metro station is Flaminio on Linea A. From there, walk across the Piazza and head up the steps to the Gardens.