The Giardino di Ninfa (Ninfa Garden) was awarded the status of Natural Monument by Region Lazio in 2000, to preserve its internationally famous flora and fauna, along with the habitat comprising the River Ninfa, the lake and the surrounding areas, including the Parco Naturale del Pantanello natural park.
This stunning garden is situated just 22 km away from our hotel and was planted on the ruins of the ancient town of Ninfa, awarded to Pope Zaccaria by Emperor Constantine V. Over the years it was ruled by a number of different families, which contributed to its expansion, until Pietro II Caetani enlarged the castle by building the ramparts and erecting the tower.
In 1382 Ninfa was plundered and destroyed by Onorato Caetani, a supporter of antipope Clement VII, and the situation was made even worse by a terrible malaria outbreak that hit the Pontina plain. No rebuilding ever took place, and the few survivors fled leaving behind what was virtually a ghost town.
It was on these very ruins that in the 16th century Nicolò III Caetani, an amateur botanist, started creating the garden; the task was then carried out by the families that succeeded him. As a result, by the 1800s Ninfa had become a popular destination and was known as the Medieval Pompei.
The last heir and gardener was Donna Lelia Caetani, who lovingly and cherishingly looked after the garden until 1977, adding magnolias, prunus trees, and climbing plants, and building a rock garden south of the town of Ninfa.
Several medieval traces are still standing, like part of the castle, the ramparts, the restored town hall, and ruins of churches and dwellings.
Yet, above all, Ninfa is a botanical paradise, a one-in-the-world nature oasis created on former marshland.
Open only a few days a year, from April to November, it treasures over 1300 different plant species from all over the world, plus more than 100 animal ones.
Visitors can admire magnificent camellias, different varieties of climbing roses, birches, marsh irises, Japanese maples, cherry trees and ornamental apple trees; as a plus, the climate is extremely mild, which allows tropical plants like avocado trees, banana trees and South American gunnera manicata to thrive.
Everything at the Giardini di Ninfa gardens adds to their magic and supernatural feel - so do not miss the opportunity to breathe it in!