In the eighth century, Ninfa became part of the Pontifical administration and, from the following century, it became a city and governed by important noble families. In 1159, Pope Alexander III was crowned in the church of Santa Maria Maggiore. In 1298 Pietro II Caetani, known as Bonifacio VIII, bought Ninfa and its neighboring territories. In 1381 Ninfa was sacked and destroyed and, also due to malaria in the nearby plains, the city was no longer rebuilt and was abandoned. The Garden of Ninfa is a unique place in the world where the medieval ruins coexist in perfect symbiosis with the vegetation. At the end of the 19th century, the Caetani returned to their possessions, reclaimed the marshes, eliminated the weeds that covered the medieval ruins, restored the baronial palace (the former town hall) and, at the beginning of the 20th century, the first plants were planted trees.
– The Path of the Garden of Ninfa in 10 points
Santa Maria Maggiore
The 12th century cathedral of Santa Maria Maggiore had three naves and the remains of a fresco are still visible in the apse.
It was one of the seven medieval Ninfa churches that took their name from the most important basilicas of Rome. Only the apse, still from the 12th century, is visible
Water is the vital and characteristic element for Ninfa. The lake and the river that comes out of it, constitute the moats that surrounded the city; streams and small springs embellish the interior of the garden together with the ponds.
Via del Ponte
Via Pontis was one of the main streets of the medieval city and, with the planting of the 1900s, architectural emergencies were highlighted.
Piazzale della Gloria
You get to Piazzale dei Ciliegi through a double row of splendid lavenders and you can see the ruins of the church of San Biagio and dense shrub plants that descend towards the turf.
This “magical” bridge captures every artist, every writer, every visitor and, outside the walls, a poplar rises majestically inserted in the archive of the “Monumental Trees of Italy”.
Traveling along via Pontis, we cross the Roman bridge, over the Ninfa river, surrounded by spectacular wisteria weaves with clusters of purple flowers.
Source of the bamboo
The source of the bamboo is enclosed by the large and flexible bamboo canes, introduced by the Fogliano garden, another place dear to the Caetani family.
Thanks to the driving force of the water, even after the abandonment of 1381, Ninfa continued its production activity. There were dams, mills, ironworks and wool processing plants, whose ruins are visible on the opposite side of the river.
Town Hall square
The former 12th-century town hall was renovated and used as a country villa for the Caetani family in the early 1900s. Adjacent to the Town Hall you can admire the 32-meter high tower and its elegant mullioned windows