Villa Borghese located in the heart of Rome, was the suburban residence of the Borghese family. Built in 1616 by the nephew of Paul V, the Cardinal Scipio Borghese, it was surrounded by large and varied gardens, which are still populated by eagles and dragons, the heraldic symbols of the family. The architect of the Casino was Jan Van Santen, a Dutchman known also as Giovanni Vasanzio. He completed a design by Flaminio Ponzio.
Until a few years ago cars were allowed to enter the villa and the square in front of the casino was a parking lot. A recent restoration together with the white color of the building eventually brought some peace and silence.
The building now hosts the gallery of statues and paintings which was hosted in the Palazzo Borghese in town. However the statues by Gian Lorenzo Bernini inside the gallery were sculpted for the Casino. Between the busts the reliefs of the eagle and the dragon.
The gardens to the north of the Casino are a fine example of a XVIIth century Italian garden, with statues and fountains. The gardens to the south of the Casino were redesigned in the XIXth century when the Borghese acquired other adjoining land and built a new entrance opposite Porta del Popolo.
In addition to their heraldic symbols the Borghese, who owned the Villa until the end of the XIXth century, decorated the gardens with little buildings in neoclassical style.
The gardens were opened to the public and on special occasions the Romans were entertained in Piazza di Siena a sort of open air theatre.