The botanical gardens of Ninfa

In the province of Latina, at the foot of the Lepini Mountains, there is a very special place of rare and extraordinary beauty. These are the botanical gardens of Ninfa, a secret jewel near Rome in the Lazio region. It is a wonderful oasis of peace that was created on the ruins of an ancient city.

The botanical gardens of Ninfa are a magical place, frozen in time, where the memory of the small medieval town is still alive in the ruins of the church and the remains of the castle.

The Giardini di Ninfa, the Italian name for the botanical gardens of Ninfa, are the ideal place for a weekend visit. Together with Sermoneta Castle and the Pantanello Nature Park, the gardens of Ninfa are owned by the Caetani Foundation.

the botanical gardens of Ninfa, Lazio, Italy

Giardino di Ninfa

The gardens of Ninfa are located in Cisterna di Latina, on the border between Norma and Sermoneta. The gardens are a wonderful example of medieval architecture and romance; the perfect place to immerse yourself in the past, in a fairytale world that has inspired great writers such as Virgina Woolf, Truman Capote, Ungaretti and Moravia.

The garden covers an area of around 8 hectares and owes its name to the Roman temple dedicated to the Naiadi nymphs, located in the middle of a small island. In 2000, the garden was declared a natural monument by the Lazio Region in order to protect the oasis, the habitat around the Ninfa river, the lake it forms and the surrounding areas.

Let's take a look back at the turbulent history of the town of Ninfa, around which this fabulous place is entwined. The small agricultural town was already founded during the Roman Empire, but only later gained political and religious importance when the swamp flooded the Via Appia and the Pedemontana became the only safe road to southern Italy; for this reason it was necessary to pass through Ninfa.

Botanical Gardens of Ninfa, Lazio, Italy

The owners of the botanical gardens of Ninfa

Ninfa had numerous owners over the years, all of whom belonged to the Roman nobility. In 1294, Benedetto Caetani was elected pope under the name of Pope Boniface VIII. In 1298, he supported Pietro II Caetani in the purchase of Ninfa and other neighboring towns, which marked the beginning of the Caetani presence in the Pontine area for about seven centuries.

In the 14th century, Ninfa was plundered and destroyed by Onorato Caetani, a follower of the antipope Clement VII, who was against the Caetani branch to which Ninfa belonged. The razed city was abandoned and never rebuilt, partly because of the malaria that was rampant in the area.

The construction of the beautiful garden was commissioned by Gelasio Caetani in the early 1920s. The last heiress and passionate owner of the enchanted garden was Lelia Caetani, who combined plants and colors as in a painting and did not hinder the natural growth of the plants. As she had no heir, she set up the Roffredo Caetani Foundation to ensure the maintenance of the garden and the enhancement of the Lepine area to which it belongs.

In the garden of Ninfa are the remains of Santa Maria Maggiore, a 20th century church with frescoes, a transparent river crossed by picturesque bridges, as well as plants and flowers from all over the world.

Botanical Gardens of Ninfa, Lazio, Italy

Giardini di Ninfa

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