Arts + Culture

Green Retreats

by Stephen Anderton

The garden: Ninfa Gardens

A tree grows in: Outskirts of Rome, Italy

First planted: 1920s

Roots: "So beautiful it makes you want to weep" is usually only said of people, but it works as well for Ninfa, the very last word in romantic gardens. Originally planted in the 1920s by the Caetani family, former feudal lords and modern-day Italian aristocracy, the garden is spread like a cloak over the ruins of a town sacked back in the 14th century—the result of a Caetani family feud—and never rebuilt. Roses throw comforting arms over crumbling, fern-clad walls, emerald weeds wave in icy brooks, and the overwhelming smell of orange blossom fills the air. Giant cypresses rise from seven ruined churches, and the images of saints, painted on the last upstanding chapels, create a beautifully stirring juxtaposition. Prepare to be moved. And then think of the poor, dusty, tourist-trodden ruins of Rome itself, about 45 miles away, and you'll start to weep.

Tel: 39 0773 695 404

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