One of the great noble families of Rome were the Caetani. Their links to the eternal city go back to the 13th century when Benedetto was elected as Pope Boniface VIII. From then on there was always a link between the family and the city and in Rome today there are two palazzi , a castle, and a medieval tower that all bear the family name. The last of the line, Lelia Caetani, died in 1977 but the name lives on in the Roffredo Caetani Foundation that today manages, among other sites, the fabulous Ninfa Gardens. The town of Ninfa, together with the surrounding land, belonged to the family from the beginning of the 14th century but the town itself was gradually deserted in the 17th century, due to the growth of the Pontine marshes and the arrival of malaria.
Enter Gelasio Caetani – born in 1877 in Rome, he led a very interesting life. He mined gold in Idaho before returning to serve in the Italian army in World War I, winning three awards for bravery. After the war he turned his talents to politics, becoming mayor of Rome before becoming Italian ambassador to the United States. In between all of these activities, in 1921 he found the time, with his English mother, Ada Bootle Wilbraham, and his brother, to create a wonderful garden in what is described as the English style. With an informal design using the remains of the medieval town as a foundation, and gentle streams trickling through, together with a host of exotic plants that Gelasio brought back from his travels, Ninfa has been described as the most romantic garden in the world. To visit this garden is to step into another parallel universe that has the magic of a childhood fantasy.
Please note that tickets have to be purchased online when you will be given an entry time. Organised groups can visit the gardens all year round by booking a guided tour. Please also note that all visits for individuals are led by a guide.