The grounds of the Villa Borghese were originally laid out in the early part of the 17th century by Flaminio Ponzio (c. 1560–1613) for Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V (r. 1605-21). They were completed by Jan Van Santen (c. 1550-1621), a Dutch architect, who was known in Italy as Giovanni Vasanzio.
The grounds included a series of formal gardens, an area of natural parkland, an aviary (Uccelliera), and a scattering of statues, fountains and ancient monuments.
In the 18th century Prince Marcantonio Borghese, the father-in-law of Pauline Bonaparte, commissioned Jacob More (c. 1740–1793), a Scot from Edinburgh, to lay out the park in the English manner (all'inglese).
In 1785 More and Christopher Unterberger (1732-98) created the Giardino del Lago, a wooded lake garden with hedged walks and arbours. The charming Temple of Aesculapius, which sits on a small island in the lake, was built in 1786 by Antonio and Mario Asprucci.
In 1902 the gardens of the Villa Borghese became the property of the state, which handed them over to the city of Rome. A year later the gardens opened as a public park.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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