We really didn’t expect the Aqueduct Park to be our favorite stop in Rome, Italy. We deliberately rented an Airbnb next to the Colosseum (which made it really easy to photograph). As we explored the city center, we were blown away – every corner had a church or a monument that would have been a main attraction in most cities our family has traveled to! But when we got to the Aqueduct Park, we felt a weight lift off our shoulders.
True, we had walked, bussed and ridden the metro across town just to take some family photos there, but something was a little different from the rest of the shoots we had done this month. Without the crowds, without the vendors hassling us, without the noisy rhythm of the traffic, the pressure to get our shots and get out seemed to vanish. For the first time in Rome, we just kind of relaxed.
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Exploring the Aqueduct Park in Rome, Italy
In the late afternoon there were a few other people at the aqueduct park, occasionally someone would pass on a bicycle, or we would step around a young couple who thought they had found a private place behind some tall grass. But for the most part, we just felt free. We were free to talk out loud without worrying if someone was listening to us. We were free to let Lisa down to touch and smell the wildflowers without worrying about whether someone would trip over her, or whether she was going to ruin someones carefully landscaped garden.
And of course, in the background, that enormous aqueduct was the backdrop that tied everything together. It’s true that there are plenty of ruins and artifacts scattered throughout the city. But that old cliche – “it felt like we had traveled back in time” – always rang a little hollow when we were surrounded by a thousand tourists with their selfie sticks, following a tour guide’s flag. Photographing the colosseum and the Roman Forum, gave us perspective on our place in time, but we still felt very much in the present. More than any other place we traveled to in Rome, the Aqueduct Park felt like it might not have changed that much.
The ruins no longer carried water to the city (obviously) but it wasn’t hard to imagine a Roman standing beneath aqueduct in its glory days, marveling at what an accomplishment it represented. Without such an incredible feat of engineering the rest of the city could hardly have existed!
Actually, our visit to the park almost felt like a great big metaphor. It was a drink of water that our family needed to refresh our sense of wellness. It was a break from the grind that our travel photography sometimes becomes. We got our photos, but at our own pace and with a sense of absolute freedom that we just don’t get when we’re struggling to stay ahead of the tours. We played, we picnicked and we even enjoyed some casual conversation. No one around us was pushing, yelling, or sightseeing, and we couldn’t even see a car.
How to Get to the Aqueduct Park in Rome
You can enter the Aqueduct Park from anywhere on Via Lemonia (Google Maps). To get there, take the metro to the Subagusto station (Google Maps) and just head Southwest. It’s the closest to the part of the park you are probably interested in (the part with the big aqueduct ruins). Here is the Rome metro map.
DO NOT just type Aqueduct Park into Google Maps, because it will take you to the wrong side and you won’t be able to get in, even if you walk a long way.
What to Pack for the Aqueduct Park
- Sunblock – There isn’t a lot of shade anywhere in Rome, and the Roman Aqueduct Park is no exception. We use this baby safe sunblock because it doesn’t have a bunch of nasty stuff in it. Whatever you use, make sure it’s SPF 50. The sun doesn’t mess around.
- Water – Speaking of the sun, you’d better bring a bottle or two of water while you’re at it.
- A Picnic Lunch – The Aqueduct Park is the perfect place in Rome for a picnic lunch or even dinner (especially in the Summer when the days are long). There are nice flat spaces for a blanket, or picnic tables for those who don’t like sitting in the grass. We love doing picnics with Lisa when we find a good place. We’ve also had fun picnics at Pont du Gard in Provence, under the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the quaint town of Portree in Scotland, and more recently on Lion Hill in Lijiang, China.
- Camera and Photography Gear – You weren’t going to leave it behind were you? You don’t need fancy camera gear to take great pictures at the Aqueduct Park, but we brought ours anyway. For the photos in this article, we used our Nikon D810, our 24-70mm lens, and our 70-200mm lens.
How Long Does the Aqueduct Park Take?
There isn’t a set tour that you are going to follow – it’s just a park. That being said, it’s a really big park, and it takes about 45 minutes to get there from the city center of Rome. Set aside at least a few hours. Even if you don’t explore the whole park, you’ll want to spend some time relaxing there. Have a picnic. Do some yoga. Write in your journal. It might be the most beautiful place in Rome, so take advantage.
Hours and Prices for the Roman Aqueduct Park
Just kidding, the park is free, and the hours are only limited by the daylight. The only other free Roman ruins we encountered in our travels were the Diocletian’s Palace and the ruins of Salona, both in Split, Croatia. Enjoy your visit!
The best time to visit the park for photography is golden hour, the hour or two before sunset. During that time you can get the sunlight pouring through the arches of the aqueduct, casting long shadows across the grass that blows in the wind.
While we were there, Dannie couldn’t help but reflect on how much better she felt there. She determined that once we’re ready to settle back down she wants to make sure we live next to a park like this instead of the heart of a city (but not too far from the city of course). As we made our way home, she was fantasizing about playing in the park with Lisa every afternoon, playing hide and seek by the ruins while I went for a jog or did some writing. Later that night as I sat in our little Airbnb apartment, trying to block out the sounds of an attention hungry toddler, I had to admit, I thought she might be on to something.
Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this article, you might also want to check out the other content we’ve written about Rome, Italy. And if you’re feeling really adventurous, we’ve been to countless other destinations around Europe and Asia since we started traveling. If you’d like to support our travels and this website, please consider a visit to our shop or our resources page while you are planning your next trip. Happy travels.