Villa Torlonia is better known to the locals and to the holidaymakers of Rome as a museum. Musei di Villa Torlonia (meaning, the Villa Torlonia Museums) are, thus, housed in two of the buildings located on the estate, namely, the so-called Casina delle Civette (House of the Owls), a former Swiss hut-like residence, and the villa proper (once used as residence by Mussolini). The history of these two buildings begins in the early 19th century, when the back then owner, banker Giovanni Torlonia, commissioned their construction, choosing Giuseppe Valadier as architect.

The construction of the park was initiated some three decades later, in 1832, at the initiative of Alessandro, son of Giovanni Torlonia. The heir commissioned Giovan Battisti Caretti, Quintiliano Raimondi and Giuseppe Jappelli to lay out the gardens, each one in charge with a certain section of the park. The work of these three architects resulted in a splendid English style garden laid out with alleys and small artificial ponds, and pegged out by surprising buildings: the Temple pf Saturn, the so-called Tribuna con Fontana and the False Ruins, the Swiss Hut (subsequently redesigned as Casina delle Civette), the Moorish Grotto, the Moorish Tower and the Moorish Conservatory, as well as the Orangerie (lemon house). Two obelisks were erected in 1842, when the construction works at the park and at the villa were basically completed, in the memory of Alessandro Torlonia’s parents.

While in the course of history the garden and the buildings inside it were damaged, in particular during World War Two, as well as by the slow passage of time and due to the administrative abandonment (in particular after 1945), most of the complex was restored by the municipality of Rome, which purchased the property in 1977.

Stretching just some two kilometers from Porta Pia, the Villa Torlonia Gardens are a pleasant refuge for people who want to combine a cultural sightseeing tour with the freshness of the lush exotic vegetation. The park has also been endowed with a kids’ playground, which means the garden is also ideal for family pastimes. The so-called Technotown, which neighbors on Casina delle Civette, is a highly educational and fun, for that matter, opportunity for children: here, they can learn historical facts about ancient Rome, as well as geography and geology related curiosities.

Villa Torlonia Gardens (Villa Torlonia)
70, Via Nomentana, Rome, Italy