Just to the north of the centre of Rome is the large and heart-shaped park known as the Villa Borghese. It's named after the building to which these were originally the private grounds - that building, on the eastern side of the park, now houses the impressive Galleria Borghese. Both building and grounds were handed over to the state in 1902.
Things to See
The immediate appeal of the Villa Borghese is simply the opportunity it presents to escape from the city for a while and wander around among the trees. On sunny days the park is full of people stretched out on the grass reading and it's very popular with young couples. Watch out on the roads - particularly near the Pincio Gardens - because as well as the cars there is the white park train, and people whistling past on bicycles, go-karts, skateboards, rollerblades and anything else they can find with wheels on. It's not unusual to see a park guard go by on a Segway...
In the centre of the park is a full-scale reconstruction of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, and to the north is Bioparco, a large zoo. Then of course, there's also the Galleria Borghese.
The Pincio Gardens
The Pincio Gardens consist of a maze of roads lined with busts of every famous Italian imaginable. There is an unusual clock set on a small island in a pond, and also a puppet theatre that's worth a look.
Visiting the Villa Borghese parks
The simplest way to get to the Villa Borghese is to take the metro Linea A to Flaminio. This will take you to the Piazza del Popolo, from which a short flight of steps will take you to the Pincio gardens. Alternatively, go to the Spanish Steps, climb to the top and walk along the road to the left to reach the same spot.