Rome’s secret garden in Trastevere.
The quiet and shady Orto Botanico in Trastevere is one of Europe’s finest small botanical gardens—and one of my favorite places to escape the hurly burly of the city. It was laid out in 1883 over 12 hectares (30 acres) on the lower slopes of the Gianicolo Hill, is run by La Sapienza (Rome’s Univeristy), and yet remains little known to visitors. You’ll talk to people who have been to Rome 20 times and never even heard of this place. Yes, it charges a (modest) admission fee, but it is well worth it to take a break of an hour or two from the otherwise relentless sightseeing of a trip to Rome. It is a lovely little park, tucked away behind the Palazzo Corsini , across from the Farnesina , on 30 acres of sloping land filled with palm and yucca, stair-stepping waterfalls, and terraces of gravely paths where it seems half of Rome’s young mothers come to push their strollers. More than 3,000 speciies of plant are here, a Japanese Garden, greenhouses with tropical species including orchids and bonsai, ana Giardino dei Semplici, a monk-inspired garden filled with medicinal plants.