An area just outside the walls of ancient Rome at Porta del Popolo gate, to the north of the city. The noble families of Rome had a number of palaces. Villa Borghese was built by Cardinal Camillo Borghese whilst Villa Giulia was commissioned by Pope Julius III.
It goes without saying that both villas deserve a visit not only for the villas themselves but also for the precious collections inside. Villa Giulia in particular is one of the greatest collections of the Etruscans. Villa Borghese is particularly well known for its extensive park lands which are frequently enjoyed by Romans. Rickshaws, boating on the lake, Rome’s Zoo and numerous other activities for both young and older generations makes it a good Sunday venue.
From here one can choose to go for a good walk towards the centre of town, passing the Museum of Modern Art and on to the Pincio belvedere which overlooks the Piazza del Popolo.
The Borghese Villa was commissioned and built between 1613 and 1616 by Pope Paul V’s megalomaniac nephew Scipio on what used to be the family vineyards. The museum holds some superlative works of art on display. Amongst these we have numerous paintings and sculptures which can hardly be done any justice by simple mention. Napoleon’s sister Paolina, married into the Borghese family is sculpted half naked as Venus. This sculpture by Canova has come to symbolise Italian art although there are plenty of works by Caravaggio, Titian, Rafael, Bernini etc etc etc.
Villa Giulia, like Villa Borghese was built as a summer residence just outside the city walls to the north of Rome. The villa was commissioned by Pope Julius III in 1550 and built by some of the best architects of the time: Vasari & Vignola with Michaelangelo’s advice as backup. Within five years an architectural work of art was complete and quickly filled with the Pope’s choice antiquities.
The villa was all but abandoned and pillaged after the Pope’s death and it wasn’t until some 300 years later that the building was destined for use as the Etruscan Museum. The museum is extremely well stocked in Etruscan art, jewelry and artifacts which sit well in the splendid architectural and frescoed setting.
Areas of Rome: | The Vatican | Capitoline hill | Palatine hill | The Forums | Villa Borghese & Villa Giulia | Piazza del Popolo | Pantheon | Piazza Navona and Campo de’ Fiori | Quirinal hill | Esquiline hill | Caelius hill | Aventine hill | Trastevere & Janiculum hill | Via Veneto | Outside the city walls | Overview of Rome’s districts and areas |