Also known as “Bel Respiro” for the healthy air at its elevated position, the garden offers stunning views out over the city and the dome of St. Peter’s. Once a backdrop to the family’s power and the intrigues of the Pope’s sister-in-law, the infamous Olimpia Maidalchini, it is today the realm of nature lovers and joggers, while the building is used as the offices of the Italian Prime Minister.

Cardinal Camillo Pamphilj, nephew to Pope Innocent X who was elected to the papacy in 1644, converted this rustic family property into an emblem of his prestige. Later expanded to a total area of 184 hectares, making it the largest park in Rome, it features refined formal gardens, complex architectural elements, and valleys so wild it feels like deer and roe deer may be lurking just out of sight. The Alessandro Algardi-designed “Casino nobile”, its elevations adorned with statues, busts and reliefs, is an expression of 17th-century classicism; it opens onto an elaborate parterre, and is backed by a majestic holm oak wood. Lower down, the Nymphaeum of Venus is an illustration of Virgil’s saying “Amor vincit omnia, et nos cedamus amori”, a reference to the Cardinal’s decision to turn his back on the church and marry Olimpia Aldobrandini. Buildings of various ages and types are dotted around the park’s pine stands and extensive meadows, including a number of cast iron and glass greenhouses that house precious plants. A copy of the Fountain of the Snail sits in the middle of a large lawn. The original, by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, is at the Doria Pamphilj Gallery. After it was enlarged and embellished in the 18th century to adapt to the newly-popular “English-style”, in 1849 supporters of the Roman Republic and the French army fought in the park, causing significant damage to buildings and trees. The park has been open to the public since 1960.