Giardino degli Aranci: a little bit of history
The garden, whose name comes from the many bitter orange trees growing there, extends over the area of an ancient fortress built near the Basilica of Santa Sabina by the Savelli family between 1285 and 1287, which, in turn, was built over an old castle constructed by the Crescentii in the tenth century. The garden is bordered by a wall that once surrounded the Savelli castle and other remains of the castle can also be still seen.
The garden setting is very symmetrical, with a central avenue aligned with the viewpoint, and later named in honor of the actor Nino Manfredi. The central square is named after another Roman actor, Fiorenzo Fiorentini, who for many years led the ongoing summer theatre season in the park.
The fountain at the entrance in Piazza Pietro D’Illiria is made up of two separate pieces: a Roman thermal bath, and a monumental marble mask originally carved to adorn a fountain built in 1593 by Giacomo della Porta for a cattle market (Campo Vaccino) in the centre of Rome. The mask has a long history. After the dismantling in 1816 of the Campo Vaccino fountain, it was recovered and from 1827 used to decorate a fountain erected on the right bank of the Tiber. This fountain was demolished in 1890 and the sculpture was kept in municipal warehouses until being moved to its present location.
On the right of the Giardino there’s the site of the Knights of Malta, a very particular building that is put right in front of San Pietro. From the keyhole of the entrance door of the palace you can see the Basilica di San Pietro like if it is just inside the garden. You should definitely try it, it isn’t something everybody knows and it’s a very funny and beautiful experience.
When to go
The perfect period to come and see the Giardino is spring, because the trees inside the garden are full of flowers and the colors of this place is really amazing, plus, in spring this area is really really beautiful and has a very romantic atmosphere, everything is green, and the sun starts to go down very late so you can enjoy every single moment here in this amazing park, including a stunning sunset.
This is the second place where you can enjoy the best view of Rome, so you can come here during the day to see everything or in the evening to have a very special moment with a different but amazing view.
What and where to eat on the Aventino hill
Up on the hill where the Giardino degli Aranci is there are not a lot of places and if you manage to find a restaurant here, sure it will be way too expensive and not so good, so I will give you some advices for some good places in this area, close to the Circo Massimo (that is under the Garden).
One of the best bar here is Bar Bistrot Gusto Massimo (Via del Circo Massimo 5), here you can have a panino or a sandwich or just a coffee but you can even have lunch sitting at a table and enjoying the view of Rome; if you’re looking for a place to have dinner or lunch, but you’re sick of pasta and pizza (strange but could happen), you can go to 0,75-Zerosettantacinque (Via dei Cerchi 65) where you can enjoy the best hamburgers of this area, the staff is very friendly and the prices are not too high, even if we are in the city center; another very good restaurant, a little bit fancier and with traditional Roman dishes, is Alvaro al Circo Massimo (Via dei Cerchi 53), their best recipe is the Amatriciana and the Lasagne, definitely worth everything.
On Saturday and Sundays, at the old fish market location in San Teodoro, is possible to visit the Farmer’s market that offers local products guaranteed by Coldiretti. For an organic gourmet experience inside the market book our Farmer’s market food tour. Two delicious hours tasting cheeses, hams, honey and learning hot to make grocery shopping.
How to reach it
The buses that arrive closest to the Garden are: 81, 160, 628 (on Via della Greca) and the buses 23, 30, 44, 280, 130,170, 716, 781 (on Lungotevere Aventino).