Among the many things my intelligent, kind, generous, funny, handsome Italian brings to the table is his knowledge of Italy and its small, hidden treasures. I’m an off-the-beaten path kinda girl, both in life and in travel. I like to experience and appreciate things that most people overlook simply because they don’t know that they exist.
The Garden of Ninfa (Giardino di Ninfa), though fairly well-known by locals of the Lazio region, is mostly overlooked by travelers making their way through the Italian trifecta of Venice-Florence-Rome. Though its location isn’t ideal for those who have only a day or two to spend in Rome, it is ideal for those spending three or more days with some time set aside for exploring the countryside. I can say, it is most definitely worth the trip.
The original town of Ninfa, nestled between the Lepini Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, was erected on the site of one of the area’s most abundant springs. Over time water has played a crucial role in the survival, and flourishing, of Ninfa. In learning how to master and control their abundant water supply (an early dam can still be seen today), the small town was able to power small machinery such as mills and olive presses.
Though once prosperous, like many things throughout history, Ninfa was ultimately destroyed by war. In this case, inter-family papal wars.
The first half of the twentieth century brought about a renaissance in the form of a romantic English garden, and thus the Garden of Ninfa was born. Using the very particular environs provided by the neighboring mountains and sea, the Caetani family was able to create an unparalleled space, a flourishing garden within the ruins.
As the area is particularly well protected at the foot of the Lepini Mountains and at the head of the river Ninfa, an ecosystem with a unique flora and fauna, the origins of which date from Ancient Rome, was able to develop there. Its urban structures were abandoned due to the plague and various crusades in the Middle Ages, and were reconquered by nature… [until] the aristocratic family of Caetani commissioned the construction of an English Garden around this fertile landscape of ruins. For centuries, the enchanted Giardino di Ninfa has attracted artists, literati and poets – among them Giorgio Vasari, Virginia Woolf, and Gabriele D’Annunzio. NY Arts Magazine, 2014
If you would like to visit Giardino di Ninfa, the hour-long guided tours (in Italian) are offered only on certain Saturdays and Sundays from April through October. I would suggest going in the spring (my photographs are from mid-May) as you stand the chance to see most species in bloom.
For those who particularly enjoy botanical adventures, or even those who enjoy spending time outdoors, this rare blend of history, architecture, and nature is a joy to behold.
Like what you’ve read and want to know more? Simply subscribe below and I’ll let you know when the blog is updated…and more!