Rome's Botanical Gardens were established in 1833, within the gardens of the Palazzo Corsini,which had been the home of Queen Christina of Sweden. But this verdant area at the foot of the Gianicolo had first been planted in the 13th century, by order of Pope Nicholas III, and was devoted to simples (medicinal plants) and citrus groves.
Today the Orto Botanico is a delicious haven from the rigours of a hot, dusty day, with its Baroque stairs flanked by cascading waterfalls, formal tableaux around fountains and statues, its bamboo grove, and varieties of exotic plants and flowers. Check out the cactus garden, the orchids and the touching and smelling collection for the vision-impaired. One of Rome's most under-appreciated gems.