Villa Borghese Gardens, Rome Italy.

Green lungs of Rome.

The Villa Borghese Gardens (80 hectares) is the third largest public park in Rome, Italy.

Originally, a private vineyard, the Park Garden was redesigned and enlarged in the early 17th century by Cardinal Scipione Borghese (nephew of Pope Paul V). It was further landscaped following an English-style gardens design in the 19th century.

The main building of the Villa is the 17th century Casino Nobile, which houses the Museo or Galleria Borghese. Designed by Giovanni Vasanzio (Jan Van Santen), the Villa was built to house the extensive collection of paintings, artwork, ancient statues and artefacts owned by Cardinal Scipione Borghese.

Often referred to as the green lungs of Rome, the park, which is easily accessible from anywhere in Rome, features wide leafy shady lanes, landscaped gardens, several museums, neo classical temples, beautiful fountains and many monuments and statues.

Biking through park. Villa Borghese gardens. Rome. Italy.
Rome. Italy. People biking through the leafy lanes within the Villa Borghese Gardens, which is the largest public park in Rome.

It also has a scenic lake or lagoon that allows tourists and locals to hire boats and row in amongst the water fowl and around the imitation Ionic Temple of Aesculapius.

It’s a pleasure to walk or bike through its shaded pathways and observe Romans and visitors at play or relaxing and escape the hectic streets of Rome. Note: The Villa Doria Pamphili is the largest landscaped park in Rome and the Villa Ada is the second largest.

Click to view the complete Villa Borghese image gallery.

All images, text and content are copyright Steven Sklifas.

Villa d’Este, Tivoli Italy.

Garden of the High Renaissance.

The Villa d’Este is situated 30 kilometres east north of Rome in the lush, picturesque and historical hilltop town of Tivoli, in the Lazio region of Italy. 

Renowned for its spectacular use of water, the Villa d’Este represents the quintessence of the Italian garden of the late High Renaissance and has elements of the mannerist and baroque architectural styles.

Converted from a Benedictine monastery into a sumptuous palace around 1550, the much-copied Villa d’Este is a masterpiece of Italian Garden. 

Hundred Fountains. Villa d Este. Tivoli. Italy.
Villa d Este. Tivoli. Italy. View along the avenue of the hundred fountains or Le Cento Fontane at the Villa d’Este at the hill town of Tivoli. The wooded walkway is flanked on one side by over one hundred hand carved waterspouts jetting out cooling water into three overlaying canals.

The Villa d’Este is one of the most significant and complex examples of Renaissance water gardens in Europe.

Visually stimulating, spectacular and theatrical, the Villa d’Este has been a tremendous influence on European garden design.

Its grounds, which have varying elevations, are replete with greenery, sculpture and statuary and a myriad of imaginative fountains, grottoes and water features. 

Tivoli and the Villa d’Este is a very rewarding and relatively easy and relaxed day trip from Rome. Whenever I travel there, I usually take the train, which takes about 1 hour from Rome. 

The Villa d’Este is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Click to view the complete Villa d’Este gallery.

All text, images and content are copyright Steven Sklifas.

Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden, Victoria. Australia.

Nestled near the mountain village of Olinda, one hour’s drive from central Melbourne, is the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden, a showcase of stunning exotic and native flora. 

A dazzling exhibit of the wonderments of nature, the garden is one of the key allures of the Dandenong Ranges, which is set in the low mountain ranges roughly 600 metres above sea level. 

Formerly recognised as the National Rhododendron Garden, the vast 40-hectare Garden (100 acres) includes an extensive range of cool-climate plants along with 30,000 Rhododendron and Azalea species and hybrids. 

Entry is free, and I spent a relaxed two hours meandering the 5 km of paved walkways during a recent summer visit and was delighted with the diversity of plant life and arrangement of the garden. 

“The Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden is Victoria’s premier cool-climate garden. With breathtaking views over the Yarra Valley, the garden features important collections of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and more, in a setting of native and exotic trees. Seasonal changes ensure the garden is a year-round delight,” Quote from the Parks Victoria website.

Click to view the complete Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden image gallery.

All images, text and content are copyright Steven Sklifas.

Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden. Victoria. Australia.
Dazzling pincushion flowers of the Leucospermum ‘Scarlet Ribbons’ plant, a member of the Proteaceae family. Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden. Victoria. Australia. Native to Southern Africa, the genus Protea was named in 1735 after the Greek Sea God Proteus, who could change his form at will.

Caserta Italy

The 18th century Royal Palace or Reggia di Caserta is Italy’s most magnificent Palace and one of Europe’s grandest Royal residences and its immense park garden is one of the most dazzling in Europe. 

The Palace or Palazzo Reale was built at the behest of Charles III of Bourbon (who never ended up living there). Designed by Luigi Vanvitelli, southern Italy’s greatest architect, the construction of the Palace began in 1752 and completed in 1774. 

Palace and garden were to be the pride of the Bourbon monarchy and be so beautiful as to rival and even overshadow Versailles in France. 

The lavish and vast Baroque Palace comprises five storeys, 43 staircases, 1,790 windows and 1,200 rooms all arranged around four courtyards.

The royal park, also designed to rival the gardens of Versailles, stretches for 3 kilometres across the park in a straight line from behind the Royal Palace. 

The immense avenue is flanked by hornbeam hedges and lined by narrow lawns and punctuated by stepped cascades, ponds, groups of statues and fountains with mythological themes. The avenue finally ends up at the base of the great cascade, a waterfall some 75 metres high which tumbles into the basin of Diana and Actaeon. 

There is also a Botanical Garden known as the English Garden. The garden was the first of its type on the European mainland and is in the naturalistic style similar to those created by the famous English Landscape architect Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown.

Caserta is located 40 km north of Naples in the Southern Italian region of Campania. I have made the trip many times via train from Rome. The station is opposite the Palace. 

The Palace complex was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. 

Click to view the complete Caserta image gallery.

All images, text and content are copyright Steven Sklifas.