Among the many noble villas in Rome, Villa Balestra is one of the less known and popular: it is hidden in the heart of the elegant and quiet Parioli district, and for this reason it can be a pleasant detour to be discovered without haste.
The public garden is what remains of the splendid 16th-century villa owned by Cardinal Giovanni Poggi, lying on top of the Monti Parioli, above a large tuff ridge overlooking Viale Tiziano. Purchased by Cavaliere Giuseppe Balestra in 1880, the villa was dismembered from 1910 and underwent a heavy subdivision from the 1950s. The main buildings of the original villa – including the noble casino with a splendid loggia mentioned by Vasari – are now private and located outside the perimeter of the gardens.
Covering an extension of less than 15 thousand square meters, the area of the gardens has an elliptical shape and is structured on two parallel avenues, with a wide esplanade and three large flower beds with tall maritime pines and cypresses. The gardens host a space equipped with games for the little ones and a refreshment point. Along the slopes of the hill there is a vast green area characterized by thick vegetation and caves dug into the tuff.
Despite its simplicity, thanks to its enviable position, the villa allows to enjoy a wonderful panorama of the city, with an unusual perspective. From the villa the gaze sweeps from the unmistakable profile of San Pietro to Monte Mario and then descends to the Tiber and the area of the Foro Italico.
Open from dawn to the dusk