Ninfa ... Conservation of a Protected Landscape
Safe harbor for 132 species of birds, pure lake waters,
and a Pontine marshland habitat.
Ninfa's 100,000-hectare property is accorded utmost respect by the governing Roffredo Caetani Foundation & curator, Lauro Marchetti. With the dawn of the 21st century, to care for the land is a primary consideration: Ninfa's historic landscape of treasured flora and fauna is in many ways unique. Thankfully, I had planned well in advance to visit Ninfa, and it was my good fortune to meet Dirrettore Marchetti and his charming wife, Stella.
The rain began, then stopped, then fell lightly once again as I strolled through the organically maintained gardens with Signora Marchetti.
Located 20 km from the sea, Ninfa is situated at the base of the Lepini Mountains, and therefore protected from harsh winds. The gardens emerge as an idyllic natural setting. Yet, at the same time, the lush plantings are a resonant reminder of of the loving touch and prescient planning of the keen-sighted garden-makers of the past.
The restored castle tower overlooks magnificent architectural evergreen pines, playing off flowering cherries, aristocratic magnolias, and the contorted limbs of mature maples. The atmosphere felt blessed as we explored pathways, coming upon long vistas of gently meandering streams flanked by an alliance of roses and rhododendrons, self-sown mahonia, and the lavish foliage of gunnera.
Ninfa: Small Books of Great Gardens
Text by Lauro Marchetti and Esme Howard - Photos by Claire de Virieu
The eye alights upon a banana grove in a sun-drenched clearing:
A microclimate warmed by venerable stone walls and ruined towers.
An appointment called the Marchettis to Rome, but before they departed. I had the opportunity to talk with Lauro Marchetti about a project to extend the gardens, creating a spacious nature reserve for the abundant wildlife.
As I proceeded to walk alone, I found myself wishing that I were a resident nymph,
able to spend intimate hours on the splendid property...
Photos and Text Copyright © Alice Joyce
Ninfa opens to the public on a limited basis, offering guided tours.