Perhaps one of the most lovely, traditional, and affordable Italian daytime escapes is, literally, a walk in the park. Saturdays and Sundays in Italy are typically spent picnicking, flying kites, bicycling, roller-blading, and lounging around with family and friends in parks. (Many parks are named for the homes, villa, which they surround). And if you stop by for even just an hour, you are guaranteed a sneak peak into typical, and stereotypical, Italian contemporary culture.
Hassle-free and economical, park life is a nice respite from chaotic museum lines and overcrowded piazzas. Italian parks, whether national, regional, or local, offer a range of entertainment—no cost and low cost—from picnics to puppet theaters.
Major Italian cities, like Turin, Milan, Florence, Naples, Rome, and (even) Venice, have green, open spaces coiffed and dedicated to the public, which are, oftentimes, more well-heeled than the countryside counter part, offering concert series and thespian programming.
Country parks include protected areas (archaeological and wildlife sites), river beds, mountains, and valleys, and beaches. They're ideal for nature escapes and for light-to-heavy exercise. Most parks offer free excursions, similar to Sierra Club hikes, providing in-depth knowledge of regional landscape and nature.
Favorite Italian Parks:
Parco della Fara (Bergamo Alta, Lombardia)—spectacular view of the Gran Padana.
Parco del Bricel (Chivasso, Piemonte)—river walk
Biennale Gardens (Venice, Veneto)—great for people watching and chestnut eating
Parco di Via San Fracesco (Fiesole, Tuscany)—sunset views
Bulicame (Viterbo, Lazio)—open roadside field with free sulfur and mud baths
Villa Borghese (Rome, Lazio)—best for children’s rides
Villa Pamphilj (Rome, Lazio)—nature walks and kite flying
Parco del Gran Sasso (Abruzzo)—autumn bike riding
La Favorita (Palermo, Sicily)—former King of Sicily’s hunting grounds, all-around beautiful
—Erica Firpo, blogging from Rome for our Affordable Europe series.