A walk on the wild side in Parco della Caffarella

by Alexandra

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Rome sometimes feels as though it’s on the edge of the wilderness. Wild flowers burst through the pavements, ivy covers entire buildings, waist-high grass surrounds ruins surrounded by roads, a week’s worth of uncollected rubbish piles up in the piazza

Sometimes it’s picturesque, sometimes it’s putrid, but overall I like this sense of wilderness and decay. There are certain corners of the city that are being reclaimed by nature, and good luck to nature, I say. Plants might actually do a better job of governing the city.

I recently discovered a new patch of wilderness in Rome. It’s called Parco della Caffarella, and it lies to the east of the city centre (above Via Appia Antica, and accessible from metro stations Furio Camillo and Colli Albani). Towards the end of a boiling Saturday afternoon, Valeriano took me there on his motorino.

Parco della Caffarella is basically the countryside. If you’ve actually lived in the countryside you might disagree, but from the perspective of someone who’s spent 99% of their life in cities, Parco della Caffarella is the countryside. There are trees, fields, and a sort of farm. I saw parakeets, sheep, and a large, brightly-coloured lizard. For this Testaccina, it felt pretty rural.

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One of the many things I love about Rome is that it’s so easy to escape the city. Even as a city-dweller (and city-lover), I like to get out occasionally, and in Rome you’re really spoilt for choice. Beaches, lakes, mountains and Proper Countryside are just a short train ride or car journey away. And if you’ve only got a couple of hours to spare, parks such as Parco della Caffarella will do.

I’d also recommend Parco degli Acquedotti, which is a little further out, but still easy to get to (metro stations Lucio Sestio or Giulio Agricola). As the name suggests, there are some enormous Roman aqueducts running through the middle of the park. From what I remember, it’s more open than Parco della Caffarella. You might go to Parco degli Acquedotti for a passeggiata or a picnic, whereas Parco della Caffarella is good for getting lost in the woods. Both have their charm.

I recently wrote a guest post for fellow expat blog Surviving in Italy – An Alternative Guide to Rome – which includes a sub-section on parks and general greenery, should you find yourself craving trees. However, I think it’s worth pointing out that at this time of year, green spaces are not always the best place to be. I recently went to a garden party where everyone was dripping in sweat from the humidity, and it was only because the garden had been blitzed with chemicals that we were saved from the mosquitoes…