The terrace of the Pincio Gardens is one of the greatest places from which to enjoy Rome’s picturesque sunsets. The Pincio Gardens or Pincian Gardens actually date back to the antiquity. The name of the park comes from the former villa of the Pincii family, who lived here in the fourth century. Later the hill was used as the vineyard of the monastery of Santa Maria del Popolo.
Nowadays there is a more modern nineteenthcentury version of the area, separated from the nearby Villa Borghese gardens by the ancient Aurelian Wall. With orders from Napoleon, Italian architect Giuseppe Valadier laid out the gardens from 1810 until 1818 in a classical style.
Stroll through the gardens
While the plants and flowers of the gardens are quite lovely and vary with the seasons, what most visitors enjoy about Pincio Gardens is the vast number of nineteenthcentury busts of famous Italians that line the pathways. There are 228 in all, and they are in various states of disrepair. Nonetheless, they can still be enjoyed on a stroll through the garden and their broken noses and sometimes graffitied pedestals are easily ignored by most visitors, though people do their best to keep up with the damage.
An obelisk, which is situated in the center of the gardens, is believed to be an early Roman copy, commissioned in the second century AD by the Emperor Hadrian as a tribute to his dead favorite friend and lover Antinous. The obelisk was probably erected at Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli. Pope Pius VII placed the obelisk here in the gardens in 1822.
Visitors can also view a unique water clock, built in 1867 by a Dominican, father Giovanni Embriaco. The water clock was one of the attractions at the Paris Universal Expo held that same year. In 1872 another model of Embracio’s water clock was installed in the Pincio Gardens at the Viale dell’Orologio.
Probably the greatest thing about visiting Pincio Gardens is the panoramic view of the city it provides from the balustraded Pincio Terrace at the Piazzale Napoleone I as it stretches out over the Piazza del Popolo.
Location: Piazzale Napoleone I, Il Pincio, Rome
Nearby sights: Santa maria del Popolo, Piazza del Popolo, Villa Borghese
How to get there: Subway: Flaminio (A)
Nearby hotels: Piazzetta Margutta, Rocco Forte Hotel De Russie, Hotel Piranesi