Garden of Ninfa, located in Lazio, between Cisterna di Latina and Sermoneta, is, indeed, one of the wonders of Italy’s landscape heritage. In 2000 it was declared ‘natural monument’ by the Latium Region and it is and affiliated WWF Oasis. Appreciation of its beauty is so far reaching that it has previously been the recipient of the title of ‘most beautiful garden in the world’ by the New York Times.
The Garden of Ninfa owes its beauty to the botanical and historical richness that it preserves. Within its eight hectares of land are the Ninfa river and irrigation streams which help to grow about 1,300 species of plants from different parts of the world. This is possible due to the Norma cliff that protects the territory from the north winds and creates a favorable micro-climate that allows the growth of exotic plants. Next to the typical Mediterranean flora and magnificent rose gardens one can admire hickories, Japanese maples, and yuccas. An environment that is as varied and delicate as that of the Garden of Ninfa requires great protection and care. It is for this reason that the garden is open to the public during specific dates and times and is only accessible by guided tour. It is more than a garden though, with a path that winds alongside the ruins of the ancient town of Ninfa. The Garden has a secular history that intertwines with historical events of the Italian Peninsula and of the Caetani family, the owners of these lands for seven centuries. Its origins date back to Roman times, when a small temple was built and dedicated to the Naiad nymphs, deities of spring waters, to which it owes the origin of its name. From the eighth century, it became part of the pontifical administration and when, in 1924, Benedetto Caetani became Pope the territory was incorporated in the family properties. At the time of its greatest splendor Ninfa was a town full of houses and churches surrounded by a double ring of walls and defensive towers, which with the presence of the Caetani became a garden of delights. It is due to the presence of the ruins that the town was defined as the Pompeii of the Middle Ages in the 1800s.
Ilona Catani Scarlett