Italy’s best city parks

8 March 2021
migliori parchi cittadini

Our cities are home to genuine green spaces where you can walk, exercise and marvel at the beauty of nature.

Are you curious about city parks where you can spend your free time? Explore them with us!

The past year hasn’t been easy. We stayed at home, going out only when absolutely necessary, and we were reminded how valuable and liberating a walk in the fresh air can be.

When we’re told that if we want to breathe clean air and admire nature we need to move away from cities, it’s not always true.

Milan, Turin, Florence and Rome not only contain historical and artistic marvels ready to be admired. In these cities we can find real “green lungs” where we can walk and admire the nature all around us.

Here’s our selection of the top city parks that you absolutely shouldn’t miss:

Sempione Park (Milan)

Milan’s most important green space

Located in the center of Milan, Parco Sempione is considered the most important park in the city. It’s a huge green area extending from the Sforza Castle to the Arco della Pace, a total of 47 hectares.

It was built between 1890 and 1893, on the model of the typical English garden, with waterways, tree-lined avenues and low hills.

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At one time this place was used as a parade ground, due to its strategic location near the Sforza Castle. Moreover, in the early 20th century, it hosted the first Universal Exposition in Milan.

The park also features an artificial lake and wooded areas with shrubs and lawns. Another distinctive and unique characteristic of Sempione Park is the presence of several well-known buildings. The Triennale museum, the Civic Aquarium and the Arena Civica stadium are all found here.

Today, the park is considered Milan’s true green space; a relaxing oasis where both locals and tourists can find a peaceful corner away from the city’s traffic and chaos.

It’s also a place of legends and ghost stories…

Legend has it that in the late 19th century a certain Alvisio, returning from an evening with friends, decided to walk through the park at night. Suddenly at his side he found a beautiful veiled lady dressed in black. They began talking, and the lady invited him to spend the night at her fabulous villa inside the park. Alvisio agreed, and the next day the lady escorted him back along the park’s avenues and then disappeared without a trace.

The story goes that under the veil, the lady did not hide a beautiful face but a skull. No one has ever been able to find the mysterious mansion. Centuries have passed since then, and no one else has ever met the veiled lady in Sempione Park.

Indro Montanelli Public Gardens (Milan)

The first public gardens in the heart of Milan.

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The central Porta Venezia neighborhood is home to Milan’s first real public park: the Indro Montanelli Public Gardens.

This park was inaugurated in the late 18th century by the Austrian Habsburg family, who ruled the city at that time. The family commissioned Giuseppe Piermarini to create a park for the recreation of Milanese citizens.

The project was entrusted to Emilio Alemagna, who designed a garden in the classical French style.

Originally, this place also housed a zoo, which is now closed to the public. Important buildings that can still be admire inside the park include the Ulrico Hoepli Planetarium, Palazzo Dugnani and the Civic Museum of Natural History.

After many years and various names, from Giardini di Porta Venezia to Giardini di Via Palestro, in 2002 the park was renamed after the celebrated journalist Indro Montanelli.

If you’re curious to discover our activities in Milan, click HERE.

Valentino Park (Turin)

Turin’s most important green space

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The best-known public park in Turin is definitely Valentino Park.

Located on the bank of the River Po, it dates back to the 17th century. A favorite place for the Savoy family, the park owes its name to the Valentino Castle, their summer residence in the city, which is located within the park.

This castle is one of the Savoy Residences, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.

What’s more, as we walk along the paths of the park, we find a Medieval Village, accessed by a drawbridge. The place still has a fairy-tale atmosphere.

The Rock Garden, on the other hand, is a nice thing to find as you stroll aimlessly in the park. You can enjoy the nature all around and rest on the benches adorned with original artworks that line the path.

Today, Valentino Park stands out for its wonderful natural heritage, with lush vegetation and varied wildlife. For birdwatchers, there’s a variety of bird species to spot.

In conclusion, this place is now an ideal destination where locals and visitors can unplug and relax, some with a simple walk, some by practicing sports. It’s the perfect place for anyone who feels the need for nature while staying in the city center.

Do you want to discover the city with a guided walking tour? Click HERE!!!

Villa Borghese (Rome)

One of Europe’s largest city parks and home to the famous Borghese Gallery.

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Villa Borghese is one of the largest urban parks in Rome and Europe. Covering a vast area of some 870 hectares, it was once owned by the Borghese family, but in the early 20th century it was acquired by the state, and opened to the public.

Considered an example of the perfect union of nature and art, in this quintessential Italian park we can find numerous buildings, monuments and artworks, as well as fountains, lakes, lush vegetation and wildlife.

The most striking and must-visit places in this park, far from the city chaos, are the Giardino del Lago, where you can hire a boat and enjoy the park from a different and very special angle; the Sundial with its Secret Gardens; the Deer Park and, last but certainly not least, the Borghese Gallery. This museum is home to many unique and important artworks, including pieces by Titian, Raphael and Caravaggio.

Villa Doria Pamphili (Rome)

One of the largest green areas in Rome, as well as the official seat of the Italian government.

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Villa Doria Pamphili is the third-largest park in the capital. Inside the park is the official representative office of the Italian government.

Occupying an area of 184 hectares, this delightful place was originally the country estate of the noble Roman Doria Pamphili family.

It’s considered a true garden of wonders: as we stroll through the tree-lined avenues, we can admire marvelous buildings from the 17th century, and an Italian-style garden with fountains, waterfalls and lakes.

Most striking of all is definitely the Casino del Bel Respiro, surrounded by lush vegetation, which feels more like the countryside than the center of Rome. In fact, at the time of its construction, this area was considered outside the city.

There are numerous secrets attached to this place: one of them is a mile-long tunnel, which was created as an escape route for popes, and connects the Casino to the Vatican.

The park also boasts footpaths, cycleways and children’s playgrounds, as well as a bar-restaurant.

In short, a real haven if you’re looking for a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of the city.

If you’d like to combine a guided walking tour of Rome with a tour guide, click HERE!!!

Cascine Park (Florence)

The largest green area in the center of Florence

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In the heart of the Cradle of the Renaissance lies Cascine Park, the largest public gardens in Florence.

This wonderful green space covers more than 130 hectares and is located within walking distance of the city center.

It was originally a farm and hunting estate owned by the Medici family . In 1791, after several years of redevelopment commissioned by Grand Duke of Tuscany Pietro Leopoldo of Habsburg-Lorraine, the park was finally opened to the public.

Today we are fortunate to be able to visit this delightful and peaceful place that runs parallel to the Arno River. Moreover, Cascine Park is home to a wide variety of vegetation and wildlife.

In short, this city park is the perfect place to spend some time in contact with nature. The opportunity to take a yoga class, walk, run or cycle in the park makes this a favorite place for Florentines. It’s also home to the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Florence.

If you’re curious to discover all the secrets of Florence, click HERE!!!

We’ve seen how our Italian cities offer opportunities to spend time outdoors within walking distance of the center.

Have you ever visited one of these parks? Which city park is your favorite?

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