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Villas in Rome: a must-see heritage of noble families




The beauty of the Eternal City goes far beyond famous attractions in Rome, iconic monuments, and majestic Vatican churches. Of course, there are lively city squares, charming streets, romantic alleys, and more. But there are other iconic places that are not so famous, but no less (if not more!) beautiful. These are luxury villas in Rome. Unbelievable, but it is a fact! Rome is the city with the most greenery in Europe. The parks and villas in Rome appeared mainly due to the popes. These were the estates and hunting lodges of the noble families of Rome. Scattered throughout the Italian capital, these magnificent complexes simply must be seen with your own eyes. Don’t miss them!

Villas in Rome: Villa Medici

A luxurious complex that perfectly embodies Italian grandeur at its finest, Villa Medici is a sight to behold. Perched atop Pincian Hill, it was founded by Ferdinando I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, in 1576 and at the time proved to be the first of many properties owned by the Medici family in the Italian capital and became a symbol of their increasing power over the country’s nobility.

Villa Medici
Villa Medici. Photo: © José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Villa Medici
Villa Medici. Photo: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)
Villa Medici
Villa Medici. Photo: Sailko, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Villa Borghese

The most famous park in Rome is located in the heart of the city. Villa Borghese includes the Borghese Gallery, home to one of the largest art collections in the city, as well as numerous lakes and gardens. Cardinal Scipione bought the land in 1612 and started to improve the area. The complex, full of statues and fountains, was intended to house the Borghese family’s art collection and was a country villa providing pleasure, entertainment and escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Now the city zoo, the National Etruscan Museum and Shakespeare’s Globe Theater operate here. At Villa Borghese you will also find the Pincio Terrace, which offers one of the best views of the city.

Villa Borghese
Villa Borghese. Photo: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)
Villa Borghese
Villa Borghese. Photo: Pierre-Selim Huard, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 4.0)
Villa Borghese
Villa Borghese. Photo: Fabrizio Garrisi, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Villas in Rome: Villa Farnesina

Villa Farnesina is a mansion built between 1505 and 1511. One of the most magnificent Renaissance buildings survived in Rome, it is a clear manifestation of the luxury and wealth that prevailed in Italian society at that time. Despite the fact that the building is unremarkable in size and its appearance is not particularly striking, it is worth visiting for the sake of the frescoes decorating the interior. Raphael himself was their author!

Villa Farnesina
Villa Farnesina. Photo: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)
Villa Farnesina
Villa Farnesina. Photo: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)
Villa Farnesina
Villa Farnesina. Photo: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra / flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Villa Torlonia

What makes Villa Torlonia different from other places in this list is that it is a lot more quirky than the others. While most of the other places on this list display grandeur, opulence and luxury, this former residence of the Torlonia noble family feels more like the countryside place than the Italian capital one. Its dreamlike aesthetic, red brick façade and gentle gardens are far from the palatial glory of other villas. But that’s what makes this place as much a must-see as any other. Perhaps even more!

Villa Torlonia
Villa Torlonia. Photo: Lalupa, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Villa Torlonia
Villa Torlonia. Photo: Sailko, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)
Villa Torlonia
Villa Torlonia. Photo: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra / flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Villas in Rome: Villa d’Este

Villa d’Este is one of the symbols of the Italian Renaissance and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in Tivoli, very close to Rome, it is a pearl of architectural and landscape splendor. The extraordinary complex is known worldwide for its sumptuous fountains and for being the most beautiful example of an Italian Renaissance garden in Europe. The building was commissioned by Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este, former governor of Tivoli and son of Lucrezia Borgia, and the work was done by the brilliant architect Pirro Logorio. The construction, which was started in 1550 and lasted about 20 years, overcame many difficulties. The water gushing from numerous fountains, which can still be appreciated in its splendor, comes directly from the Aniene River through an underground channel 600 meters long. The whole complex extends over 4 hectares and includes a residential building, a garden and about a hundred of fountains, which are real works of art.

Villa d'Este
Villa d’Este. Photo: Dnalor 01, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Villa d'Este
Villa d’Este. Photo: Carole Raddato / flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Villa d'Este
Villa d’Este. Photo: Carole Raddato from FRANKFURT, Germany, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)