The Villa of Dreams

In keeping with my ebullient mood, I feel the need to show off a little.

How lucky am Ito take my regular exercise in the grounds of a glorious Baroque villa? Complete with manicured gardens, meadows, fountains, lakes, and hundreds and hundreds of my beloved Roman pines? I write of the Villa Pamphilj, a summer haven sprawling over Gianicolo hill and into the valley behind it, created in the 17th century by the rascal Camillo Pamphilj, (son of the infamous Donna Olimpia Maidalchini--more on her later) and originally called Bel Respiro. It has been a public park since the 1960s, at which time it was sadly cut in two by a busy new street. Only in the year 2000 was a sky bridge built to connect the two sides.

At 185 hectacres (455 acres) the villa feels like bit of countryside within the steaming city, and this lush retreat, high above the bustle of Rome, offers surprising tranquility.  A few nights ago I took a twilight bike ride through my enchanted forest, bringing along a camera to capture what I knew I would fail to express in words.

The Villa's lovely lake. What are all those little dots in the water?

Oh my goodness, turtles!

Lots of turtles!!

Turtles and ducks and swans, oh my!

The one spot in the villa where you can see the very tip of Saint Peter's dome.

I've been looking for a new place to live... I think I've found it!

Acqua Paola

. This aqueduct is not ancient, although it follows the path of the ancient aqueduct, the

Acqua Traiana

. A few underground sections of the original aqueduct are still intact, and were incorporated into this Renaissance one when it was built  in 1612 by Pope Paul V Borghese. It brings water to Rome from the volcanic lake north of the city,

Lago Bracciano,

and feeds many of Rome's most important fountains, such as those in

Piazza Navona, Piazza Farnese

, St. Peter's, Trastevere, and of course the



The view on my ride home. Ahhhhh......

All photos © Tiffany Parks