Day Trip to Giardino di Ninfa

Distance

80km southeast of Rome (1 hour and 20 minutes)

How to Get There

Giardino di Ninfa, a landscape garden built among the ruins of a medieval town, is best reached by car. It’s a scenic drive south of Rome to the province of Latina, amongst a backdrop of mountains.

Latina itself is accessible by train, however, the gardens are still a 15-minute car ride away from the station. But, if this is your only option then it’s possible to take a train from Roma Termini to Latina. Depending on whether you take a regional or intercity train, the ticket price varies from €4-€10, and the journey time is between 30-45 minutes. From Latina station then take a taxi the rest of the way.  Make sure you take down the number of the taxi for the return journey!

Opening Hours & Tickets

Giardino di Ninfa

April to November, 9am – 16:00/ 18:30 (season dependent). Make sure to check the website as the garden is only open on a select handful of days each year. The chosen days usually fall on weekends or public holidays.

Tickets must be purchased online well in advance. There is no possibility to buy tickets onsite. Adult tickets are €15,00 (+ €0.50 booking fee), children under 11 years old get in free.

All visits are by guided tour only, when you book your ticket online, you are required to select an entrance time. Tours depart the entrance every 10 minutes with 50 people on each tour. Make sure you arrive 15 minutes before your allocated entrance time and be prepared to wait in line. Depending on the day, waiting time can vary from 10 to 50 minutes.

The tours themselves last about one hour. English speaking guides accompany tours at 10:30am and 3:30pm only, to ensure you get a spot on an English tour, you must book the time slots of 10-11am or 3-4pm and make yourself known to the staff at the entrance.

To view the calendar and to purchase tickets, click here.

History

Giardino di Ninfa

Like something lifted from the pages of a fairytale, Giardino di Ninfa (garden of nymphs) is a place where time stands still.

It is named so because long ago, on an island on the small lake adjacent to the gardens stood a nymphaeum; a temple dedicated to nymphs. In mythology, nymphs were divine spirits bound to nature.

Following the temple, the ancient Roman village of Ninfa was built where the gardens now stand. Ninfa slowly grew in size as well as importance. In the Middle Ages, it had more than 150 houses, a castle, a town hall and many more important structures enclosed by a defensive wall with guard towers. In 1297, after being owned by several different noble families, the whole town was purchased by the Caetani family.

However, in an unfortunate turn of events in 1381, the town was ransacked which all but destroyed it. After this, it was abandoned to nature and neglected. The site lay in disrepair until the Caetani family transformed the town’s ruins into a botanical garden in 1921. The Caetani family continued to care for the garden until the last heir established the ‘Caetani Foundation’; a private organisation now responsible for the care and maintenance of the garden.

What to See

Giardino di Ninfa

Giardino di Ninfa is as whimsical as the name suggests.

When the restoration of the site began, the Caetani family created what they called an ‘English garden’ by draining the existing swamps and planting oak trees, beeches and cypresses. They restored many of the ruins, choosing to include them in the design, making the garden a particularly special place. Over the years, different foreign species were introduced and the garden developed into something much more than was originally intended.

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The garden has been declared by many as the world’s most romantic garden and it’s easy to see why. It is an enchanting place, where nature and heritage live harmoniously; plants and trees climbing over ruined towers, brightly coloured flowers bursting through walls, a frescoed church standing open to the elements, and the river Ninfa flowing through it all.

The garden has its own microclimate and over a thousand varieties of plants and trees from all over the world. In total there are 1300 botanical species across the eight acres of land. Your tour will follow a specific route and the different varieties of plants and trees will be highlighted. Among the unusual flora are magnolia, birch, pine, cedar, water iris, Japanese maples, walnut and hazelnut trees. If you visit in spring you’ll be lucky enough to experience cherry trees and apple trees. You’ll even find tropical species like avocado trees, banana trees and bamboo!

But what makes this garden a truly magical place is the stunning combination of stone and earth; the plants and flowers overrunning the medieval ruins. Santa Maria Maggiore which was the ancient town’s main church, built in the 10th century, still stands today.

If you are an avid photographer, or you’d simply like to imagine the garden without 50 other people present, keep to the back of the crowd for a more peaceful experience.

Where to Eat

Giardino di Ninfa

If you’re thinking that Giardino di Ninfa would be an ideal place to have a relaxing picnic lunch, you’re absolutely right! Unfortunately though, because the garden is privately owned, and your visit is limited to a guided tour, this isn’t possible. However, there is a solution!  If you’re coming from Latina, continue a little further up the road, past the entrance to the garden. You’ll find a low stone fence, wide enough to sit on, and a view of the Lake, with a medieval tower peeking out of some trees (pictured above). Here, you can enjoy a leisurely lunch.

If you come by train and are looking for somewhere close to the station try Sisters (Via Olmo, Latina Scalo). Serving traditional cuisine at a decent price, this restaurant will cater to all your food needs.

Alternatively, if you have access to a car then head into Latina itself (about a 25-minute drive from the gardens) to Uvafragola (Via M. d’Azeglio, Latina). This innovative restaurant combines the idea of ‘home cooking’ with great quality, locally sourced ingredients.

Giardino di Ninfa

Giardino di Ninfa is a breathtaking and one of a kind place. It presents a few challenges in terms of opening hours and days, restrictions with tours, and of course, getting there. However, if you’re up to the challenge, you won’t be disappointed!

For more information contact us and we’ll plan a customized itinerary for you!

+39 06 88975757/+39 334 7273299 (WhatsApp)

info@whatalifetours.com

Author: Rebecca Allison

Rebecca is an Australian writer and history lover who has been living in Rome since 2015. She enjoys travelling around Italy (and beyond), as well as marvelling at the many architectural and historical feats that Rome has to offer in the streets and museums.

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