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Villa Borghese is a large landscape garden in the naturalistic English manner in Rome, containing a number of buildings, museums and attractions. It is the second largest public park in Rome (80 hectares or 148 acres) after that of the Villa Doria Pamphili .
In 1605 Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V and patron of Bernini, began turning this former vineyard into the most extensive gardens built in Rome since Antiquity. The vineyard's site is identified with the gardens of Lucullus, the most famous in the late Roman republic. In the 19th century much of the garden's former formality was remade as a landscape garden in the English taste (illustration, right). The Villa Borghese gardens were long informally open but were bought by the commune of Rome and given to the public in 1903. The large landscape park in the English taste contains several villas. The Spanish Steps lead up to this park, and there is another entrance at the Porte del Popolo by Piazza del Popolo . The Pincio (the Pincian Hill of ancient Rome), in the south part of the park, offers one of the greatest views over Rome.
The villa itself, Villa Borghese Pinciana, was built by the architect Flaminio Ponzio, who developed sketches by Scipione Borghese. It now contains the Galleria Borghese.
The garden Casino Borghese, built on a rise above the Villa by the architect Vasanzio, was set up by Camillo Borghese to contain sculptures by Bernini including his David and his Daphne and by Antonio Canova (Paolina Borghese) and paintings by Titian, Raphael and Caravaggio.
In Villa Borghese is the Villa Medici , housing the French Academy in Rome, and the Fortezzuola a Gothic garden structure that houses a collection memorializing the academic modern sculptor Pietro Canonica.
Other villas scattered through the Villa Borghese gardens are remains of a world exposition in Rome in 1911. The Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna located in its grounds has a collection of 19th and 20th century paintings emphasizing Italian artists. Architecturally the most notable of the 1911 exposition pavilions is the English pavilion designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens (who later designed New Delhi).
Beside the 1911 Exposition's villas, there is the Exposition's Zoo, recently rearranged, with minimal caging, as the "Bioparco," and the Zoological Museum (Museo di Zoologia).
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