Roseto Comunale: A Roman Rose Garden

Rome, Italy
Kirker Holidays

Rome and its surrounding countryside has many famous gardens, such as the romantic La Landriana and Ninfa, but the centre of the city is also home to some surprising horticultural highlights. One of these secret gardens is the Roseto Comunale - Rome's municipal rose garden, which is only open for a couple of months each year. It opens on 21 April every year, to coincide with the anniversary of the founding of the city, and is open to the public until mid-June. Occasionally, a second bloom means that they open for a brief window of time in October as well – though the best time to visit is in May, when you can see a thousand varieties in full bloom, with the Palatine Hill as a backdrop.

The garden is in two sections: the smaller section where the roses for the Premio Roma competition are cultivated, and the larger upper section, which contains specimens of many varieties – some rare and important. The collection includes traditional English roses, shrubs, climbing roses, and exotic roses from China, Japan, the USA and New Zealand. Notable roses include Rosa Chinensis Virdiflora, with green petals, Rosa Chinensis Mutabilis, which changes colour and the foul-smelling Rosa Foetida.

The Aventine Hill has been dedicated to flowers since the 3rd century BC, when a temple stood here to the goddess Flora, but the current gardens were the creation of Countess Mary Gayley Senni, an American living in Italy, who was an avid rose cultivator. In 1932 she gifted the city a collection of roses, which were used to establish an ornamental garden on the Oppian Hill, which became setting for an annual competition, the Premio Roma, still held to this day. After damage during WWII, the garden was re-established in its current site on the Aventine Hill, a location which had historically been a Jewish cemetery. The graves were moved to Rome’s Verano Cemetery (no longer restricted to Catholic burials), but there are still traces of this history today: if you walk to the upper section and look down, you will see that the paths create the shape of the seven-branched Menorah. At the entrance you will also find a Jewish stele, on which you might see small stones placed – a traditional Jewish custom is to place stones (rather than flowers) on a grave in memory of loved ones.

The garden is open daily from 21 April until mid-June, from 08.00-17.30 and entrance is free.


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