Rome Colosseum amphitheater park

Historical Parks near Colosseum in Rome

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After visiting the crowded Colosseum, tourists can go to parks nearby to relax and enjoy the combination of nature, culture and local people’s daily activities. The article provides information on visiting three Roman parks near the Colosseum, where tourists can visit archaeological areas, practice skateboarding, and listen to jazz music.

Parco del Colle Oppio

Hours: 7:00 am to sunset

The Colle Oppio public park is located right in front of the Colosseum. Leaving the metro line B “Colosseo” stop and proceeding towards via Labicana, travelers will notice a large gate. On its sides, two columns stand up adorned with two austere faces. Behind the gate, the road climbs towards Colle Oppio, one of the three heights that form Monte Esquilino, the highest of the seven hills of Rome.

rome oppio tree lamp colosseum

The history of the park

Today, Colle Oppio is a delightful public park that welcomes citizens and tourists. The park houses important archaeological ruins, together with places for socializing and entertainment, as well as a magnificent view of Rome’s most famous monument, the Colosseum.

rome people light colle oppio

During the imperial age, Colle Oppio was an important meeting place. But the authorities gradually abandoned the area in the Middle Ages. With the unification of Italy, the Municipality of Rome decided to transform it into a public park in 1871. After long years of inertia, the authorities resumed the project during fascism and entrusted it to Raffaele De Vico, the main architect of the Roman gardens. For example, Raffaele De Vico is responsible for the central park of the EUR lake.

rome colle oppio sculpture oriani

  Around 1930, Raffaele De Vico designed the monumental entrances, the road axes and the fountains. The architect made the walk pleasant thanks to the vegetation that incorporates both ancient species such as roses and laurel, Mediterranean trees such as holm oaks and pines and tropical plants such as palms. On one of the avenues, the authorities placed the statue of Alfredo Oriani, a little-known writer, but whom Benito Mussolini considered as a precursor of fascist ideology.

The Baths of Trajan and the playground area

On the west side of the park, right next to the Colosseum, there are the main amusements area for children. In fact, some young people can be seen playing basketball and soccer, as well as using the large and colorful skatepark.

rome park oppio baths trajan

The track is crowded with various people who move frantically on the wheels of their skateboards. The sports facility is so beautiful and important that it has hosted international events such as the qualifiers for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

rome colle oppio baths trajan

Traveling along the viale del Monte Oppio, the traveler can proceed north and reach via delle Terme di Traiano. Meeting places and precious archaeological finds overlap here. In fact, the magnificent remains of the Baths of Trajan leap to the eye, the largest thermal structure at the time of their inauguration, which took place on June 22 of the year 109 AD. Today some large semicircular exedras that made up the ancient baths remain standing.

rome oppio egypt culture institute

In the vicinity of the baths, there is a social center for the elderly and a play area for children, as well as the cultural institute of the Egyptian embassy, which has some decorations reminiscent of ancient Egypt. Those interested can attend Arabic language courses here.

rome colle oppio egypt institute

A training ground for the Roman right wing

Until a few years ago, Via delle Terme di Traiano was an important place for Italian politics. In 1946, some militants of the dissolved fascist party welcomed a group of Istrian exiles. The Communist government of Marshal Tito had in fact expelled from Yugoslavia those Italians who lived in present-day Croatia during the Second World War.

rome park colle oppio gate

Some exiles, after having wandered through numerous Italian cities, found refuge in a room of the ancient baths of Trajan which later became a section of the youth political movement that revisited fascism. The section became a training ground for numerous political figures of the Italian right wing. For example, Fabio Rampelli, the secretary of the Colle Oppio section, welcomed among his militants the one who would become the first female prime minister in Italy, Giorgia Meloni.

La Domus Aurea

Descending from via delle Terme di Traiano towards via Labicana, you will come across the fountain of amphorae and a small kiosk where you can rest and have a drink in the shade of the pine trees. From the kiosk begins a long street that ends in the main entrance, the one that is in front of the Colosseum. On the right of the avenue, you can see the most precious archaeological find, the Domus Aurea.

rome park oppio amphora fountain

After the fire of Rome in 64 AD, the emperor Nero built his own private villa. The villa was so sumptuous that it was renamed “the golden house”. This was not a simple villa, but a real palace that extended for at least 0.40 km2, including an artificial lake, a nymphaeum, a temple and numerous pavilions. The main pavilion was located on Colle Oppio and hosted sumptuous banquets.

rome amphora fountain colle oppio

Nero’s memory was quickly lost after his death, because successive emperors strongly condemned his deeds, pointing him out as a madman. His palace burned down and the architects used the Domus Aurea as a base for Trajan’s baths. During the Renaissance, a young Roman rediscovered the Domus Aurea by accidentally falling into a cave filled with frescoes. Artists such as Raphael and Michelangelo flocked to that cave to admire the ancient frescoes.

rome colle oppio domus aurea

Today, travelers can visit what little remains of the Domus Aurea through a tour of the archaeological area that uses virtual reality. The tour lasts 1 hour and 15 minutes, is called “Domus Aurea experience” and costs €15 + €1 pre-sale. Tours start every 15 minutes from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year (closing days are: January 1st, May 1st, December 25th). Tours are available in Italian and English and can be booked here.

rome park oppio domus aurea

Villa Celimontana

Hours: 7:00 am to sunset

Villa Celimontana is one of the most central Roman villas, a short distance from the Colosseum and the Baths of Caracalla. From the Metro line B “Colosseo” stop, you can reach the main entrance of the villa by going up Via Claudia and continuing on Via della Navicella. The total distance from the “Colosseo” metro stop is about 1 km.

rome celimontana entrance pregnant women

The main entrance is easily recognizable by a traveler because it is formed by an arch to whose sides two figures of pregnant women stand out. Next to it, the church of Santa Maria in Domnica alla Navicella stands out, distinguished by a fountain in the shape of a boat (which represents the very ship that gives the street its name).

rome villa celimontana tree path

The story

Villa Celimontana is an old vineyard located on the top of the Celio hill where the collector Ciriaco Mattei, patron of Caravaggio, built a villa after the area was purchased by his family in the sixteenth century.

rome villa celimontana river fountain

Ciriaco Mattei wanted to build a building surrounded by hanging gardens that could house his collection of works of art. The heirs decided instead to transform it into a summer residence.

rome villa celimontana geography institute

Meanwhile, the garden was transformed with the introduction of water features and fountains, embellished with statues designed by the great artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini. At the beginning of the 19th century, when the Mattei dynastic line ended, the villa passed from hand to hand, until it was purchased by the Bavarian baron Hoffman.

rome villa celimontana pony people

After the First World War, the Italian state expropriated the villa as an enemy property on its homeland. Today, the villa is a public park where jazz music festivals are held and the building houses the Italian Geographical Society. In fact, in the summer the “Village Celimontana” is held, a music festival which in 2022 organized over 100 free concerts.

rome villa celimontana gothic temple

Walk in the park

Wandering in the park means getting lost in the greenery of its tree-lined avenues and what remains of the statues, fountains, and other features. From the monumental entrance in Piazza della Navicella, the entrance to the building can be observed.

rome villa celimontana remains basilica

Going down to the right, you reach the play area crowded with children, where you can see an aquatic complex enriched by the remains of an ancient basilica and the neo-Gothic temple built by the Bavarian baron. As we descend, two little brothers try to race their four-wheeled bicycles, but often end up colliding with the surrounding vegetation.

rome villa celimontana sakura flowers

To the left of the building, you can instead see the Mattei obelisk surrounded by groups of people doing gymnastics and Japanese cherry trees, the sakura. The entire obelisk is about 12 meters high, but only the last 2.68 meters are original, coming from the sun temple of the Egyptian city of Heliopolis, on the Nile delta. The Romans stole the obelisk and installed it in the temple of Isis at Campo Marzio.

rome villa celimontana sakura amphora

In 1582, the authorities decided to give it to Ciriaco Mattei to thank him for his contributions to the setting up of the Capitoline museums. Legend has it that the sphere placed on top contains the ashes of Augustus.

rome villa celimontana obelisk mattei

Another more brutal story tells that, when it was time to raise the obelisk in the villa, the arms of a worker remained under the base and amputation was necessary. The arms of the poor worker would therefore still remain under the work today.

rome villa celimontana egypt obelisk

Parco degli Scipioni

Hours: 7:00 am to sunset

You can go down via della Navicella to reach piazza di Porta Metronia. Then, you can take via Druso to go to piazzale Numa Pompilio. If you turn right, you will find the famous Baths of Caracalla in front of you.

rome park scipioni entrance bench

If you turn left, you will be able to take via di Porta Latina where you will come across a small but pleasant garden, the Parco degli Scipioni. Also in this case, the overall route is about 1km.

rome park scipioni tree dog

Opposite the entrance, you will notice a small temple where, according to legend, the emperor Domitian attempted to martyr St. John the Evangelist. In the year 92 AD, the emperor would have condemned the saint to death here, by having him immersed in boiling oil. But Saint John survived the martyrdom. The emperor then decided to send him into exile. Today, the church of San Giovanni in Oleo and the entrance to the Scipioni park stand out here.

rome church san giovanni oleo

The area

As in the case of Colle Oppio, the Municipality of Rome acquired the park after the unification of Italy, but only redeveloped it during the Fascist era. Once again, Raffaele De Vico designed the area redevelopment project, in which tall trees alternate with small-sized vegetation.

rome park scipioni baby light

We visited the park on a summer evening. The greenery helped create the beautiful play of light that reflected on park visitors, children chasing a ball and adults practicing tai-chi.

rome park scipioni taiji people

The area is in fact central and very populated by Roman citizens. In particular, the event dedicated to children “La città in Tasca” is held here. In September of each year, to promote a child-friendly city, the Municipality of Rome organizes a series of shows, games and cultural activities.

rome park scipioni tombs archaeology

The Sepulcher of the Scipios

The area of the Parco degli Scipioni was a vineyard where a sarcophagus from 298 BC was found, containing the remains of Lucio Cornelio Scipione Barbato, a powerful consul and soldier of the Republican age. The authorities transferred the sarcophagus to the Vatican museums. But, in addition to the sarcophagus, the workers discovered an entire complex of tombs of the consul’s family, called the Sepulcher of the Scipios. Later, archaeological excavations also brought to light some niches.

rome park scipioni tree leaves

A wide staircase leads to the Sepulcher of the Scipios. The archaeological area can be visited by individual travelers only on certain days of the year, by making a reservation on the telephone number +39 060608 (answerable every day from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm). Access is generally reserved for groups of 5 to 12 people with their own guide. These groups can book visits throughout the year by phoning the same telephone number.

rome park scipioni stairs tombs

Written by Enrico, Translated by Hua and Photos from Hua

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