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Riserva naturale di Monte Mario

view on St.Peter from an unexpected park

Monte Mario is a window on the city, a terrace from where history revels itself layer by layer, away from every-day traffic jams and pollution.

From here, one can gaze at the most celebrated places and monuments that made the history of the Eternal City.

But Rome may sometimes disappear because Monte Mario is also a wood within the city, and this is another reason for its charm. It is a pleasure to get lost along the pathways that climb the Farnesina hills, listening to the singing of birds who live in the woods while trying to distinguish the sound of the blackbird from that of the robin or from the woodpecker pecking the pine trees.

Now and then between the trees you get a glimpse of the city: the Olympic Stadium, the Lungotevere, the Basilica of St. Peter's. In such a peaceful heaven, noises don't reach you.

The atmosphere is the same as that evoked by pictures taken when the place was far away from the center of the city, and only artists or noblemen would come on these hills and build their splendid villas here.

Later arrived the years of the urban sprawl and the surrounding landscape changed abruptly, but the scenery of the Reserves, of the Parks and villas has remained untouched. 

Since ancient times, the hills of Monte Mario have been considered an ideal place for rest and relax because of their rich vegetation, the height and the attractive view.

From Renaissance times to the 19th century, a great number of villas arose, and their architecture deeply characterizes the landscape still today.

Villa Mellini, the first Renaissance villa, was built in the 15th century and later transformed into an Astronomic Observatory and Copernican museum.

Villa Madama is the result of a unique synthesis of architecture and nature. The cardinal Giulio dé Medici, a fine expert in Humanistic studies and arts, involved the major artists of the time to build the 16th Century villa: Raffaello, Giulio Romano, Baldassarre Perruzzi, Giovanni da Udine.

Since 1940, the villa belongs to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a hosting house for dignitaries and visiting Premiers from foreign countries.

Villa Mazzanti was built in the second half of the 19th century.

It has an architectural eclectic style inspired to Renaissance examples, with rich Neoclassic ornaments and exotic patterns within a pleasant English garden.

At present, the villa hosts the headquarters of the Regional Authority RomaNatura.

Among the sand grains that constitute the hills of Monte Mario, it is easy to find the marine fossils which at all times have excited the interest of scientists and enriched paleonthological collections worldwide.

During his stay in Rome, Leonardo da Vinci was a regular visitor of the hills of Monte Mario, where he went to look for "li nicchi".

It has been assumed that the name "Monte Mario" derives from the latin expression "mons maris",

sea mountain, because of the abundance of fossil seashells.

The geological strata of the north-west area of Rome hide the traces of the geological history of the city.

The series of layers begins with the so-called blue clays, witnesses of a time when the area lay under a deep blue sea.

Above this layer, we find a coarser type of sediment which dates back to about 2 million years ago: the famous yellow clays, which represent an index of the coastal origin of soils, basically constitute the hills of Monte Mario from bottom to top.

Inside the most ancient layers, fossils of mollusks present today in the northern seas of Europe, the so-called "cold guests", prove that here there has been a sudden temperature drop, an event which corresponds to the beginning of the Quaternary Age.

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Susannetta Concierge

di Susanna Milani, P.I.11676951004