Gardens of Ninfa
Here, tucked under the arid Lepini Hills, the ruins of a medieval town (razed by civil war in 1382) were gradually transformed over the course of the 20th century by the aristocratic, now died-out Caetani family into what some consider the most beautiful garden on earth. There was never a formal plan. Three generations of Caetani wives helped Ninfa grow back over the skeleton of the abandoned town, its streets and buildings (tower, town hall, several churches) providing the framework for the garden. It still has a feeling of being inhabited not by ghosts but by the flora and fauna that have taken over the place, creating a dreamlike world of color, fragrance, and serenity. You walk along a cypress avenue (once the main street), then follow grass paths (originally cobblestoned alleys) bordered with lavender and rosemary hedges that meander between the ruins. The crumbling stonework supports a profusion of climbing roses, clematis, honeysuckle, and jasmine. Vacant gateways and windows frame views of wildflower meadows, flowering shrubs, rare magnolias, pomegranate groves, and a cluster of giant timber bamboos.