Natural Attractions in Rome, Italy

The Vatican Gardens are hundreds of years old.
The Vatican Gardens are hundreds of years old. (Image: Tupungato/iStock/Getty Images)

Although Rome is known primarily for its ancient man-made wonders, the Eternal City is home to an impressive number of natural attractions that provide a welcome break from the urban landscape. Many of Rome's gardens date back hundreds or thousands of years and are worth adding to any itinerary when visiting.

Valley of the Caffarella

Popular with runners and hikers, this stunning attraction offers more than just a hilly stretch of public green space; the Caffarella is home to catacombs and other interesting archaeological sites. The protected park is also a prime spot to observe many animal and bird species no longer found elsewhere in Rome.

Vatican Gardens

Established in 1279, the Vatican Gardens offers lush vegetation, ancient statues and towering oak trees. The gardens span nearly 57 acres in Vatican City and are open to visitors. The labyrinths of hedges, bunya-bunya trees and dozens of fountains are some of the highlights.

Vestal Virgins Garden

Located in Rome's Forum, the Vestal Virgins Garden is an ancient outdoor place featuring water basins and beautiful gardens. Dating as far back as the 6th century B.C., the garden was originally a religious space. Now, it's a popular natural attraction in Rome, although it's not as widely known as some of the city's other gardens and public spaces.

Villa Borghese

The "Central Park" of Rome was originally a private vineyard and is now a lush public space that features a garden of bitter oranges and another of formal flowers. Tourists and locals enjoy strolling through the park and attending the many festivals and public events that take place on the grounds throughout the year. Romantic walkways, secret gardens, mature trees, lovely fountains and scenic views make this natural attraction a must-see when in Rome.

Colle Oppio

One of the seven hills of Rome, Colle Oppio is home to underground ruins and large shade trees. The grounds are less developed than some of the city's other gardens, but the famed spot is still worth a visit.

Lake Bracciano

Just 20 miles from the city's center, Lake Bracciano is the second-largest lake in the area. It was formed by a volcano and reaches a depth of 541 feet. The area surrounding the lake is decorated with olive groves and other native vegetation. Because runoff into the lake is strictly controlled, pollution is not a concern and visitors can swim in the lake.

Parco degli Acquedotti

Don't miss the Parco degli Acquedotti, a beautiful open space around the Roman aqueduct in southeastern Rome. The park offers visitors a breathtaking place to relax, take photographs or observe nature. It has been protected by development and therefore retains a natural, rustic feeling. Parco degli Acquedotti is part of the larger Appian Way Regional Park.

Tiber Island

Tiber Island is situated in the middle of the Tiber River. According to legend, the island formed when Romans threw the wheat sheaves of banished King Tarquin into the river. Over time, dirt and silt collected around the wheat, forming the island that exists today. Visitors can reach the island via two bridges, the Ponte Fabricio and the Ponte Cestio.

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