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Postcard - The Town Was Sacked, the Garden Flourished

Carol Stigger
During a beach week in Latina, which is north of Naples and south of Rome, my sister and I made many discoveries. Our favorite was Ninfa Gardens discovered after we admitted we could not just lie on the beach all week. Strolling through a shady garden sounded like the way to spend a steamy afternoon, but we did not want a ho hum, isn't that a lovely tree experience. Our Googled notes on the nearby Ninfa Gardens suggested a unique botanical experience. Ninfa was a substantial town from Roman times until the Middle Ages when it was sacked and burned. Nature gradually reclaimed the town until descendants transformed the ruins into a botanical garden in 1921 - without ruining the ruins.

Some brick walls and wooden bridges still stand, and faint frescos can be seen in a roofless church. Plants wind over ruined towers and roses establish footholds in crumbling archways. Ducks paddle in the rushing streams and clear, quiet pools. The gardens are home to 152 bird species whose melodies are missed only by the iPod-addicted tourist.

Ninfa's history is no mystery, but gaining entrance requires some Sherlock Holmes skills. The latest information states that Ninfa is open from April to October on the first Saturday and Sunday of the month and the third Sunday of April, May, and June. Given this whimsical schedule, the occasional English-speaking guide and the fact that the number of daily visitors is limited, it is best to book in advance by calling Fondazione Caetani at 011-39-06-68803231.

Lake Bracciano from the Castle with Trevignana in the distance

Photo from Italian Government Tourist Board North America

Carol Stigger is a writer, teacher, traveler, and grandmother whose home base is a Chicago suburb. She lives in Italy two months a year and in India two months a year where she volunteers for a community development organization. As a writer, her specialties are developing nation poverty and microfinance.

© Carol Stigger, 2011

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