THE AMAZING GARDEN OF NINFA

If you love gardens, you absolutely must not miss the oasi of Ninfa.

Ninfa was a medieval city abandoned by its inhabitants because of malaria and slowly fall into disrepair.IMG_0446

The town was deserted for 600 years until the twentieth century, when three generations of the Caetani family decided to revive the city (that belonged to the family) like a garden. They realized that the crumbling buildings and stone bridges of the town were a dreamlike setting for a garden.

In 1922 the English born Duchess of Sermoneta, planted the roses which still cascade over trees and ruins, scrambling to enormous heights. Her son, Prince Gelasio, planted the ilexes, cypresses, black walnuts and magnolia grandiflora whic, now mature, give the garden its air of timelessness. IMG_0499

After the prince’s death his brother Roffredo and his American wife Marguerite, lived at Ninfa for twenti-five years, adding collections of flowering trees and creating more streams to criss-cross the garden. They were followed by Lelia Caetani, an artist, and her husband Hubert Howard, who added more magnolias, paulonia fargesii and began an arboretum outside the walls.

Since 1976 the garden has been transformed into an oasi managed by the W.W.F.IMG_0451

Ninfa is an authentic paradise where history, art and nature have reached an equilibrium and a truly unique fusion.

 

 

 

The fascinating roman cistern in Albano

Roman cisterns are a masterpiece of hydraulic and constructive architecture engineering that have merged in a superb way with military purposes of the Ancient Imperial Rome.

There are many tanks of the roman era that can be visited on different Regions of Italy such as those of Miseno, Pozzuoli or Formia.

piscina mirabilis di Bacoli (Miseno) Cisterna di Formia

Remains of ancient cisterns are also found in Tunisia, Turkey and Syria.

But the fascinating Cistern of Albano is the only source for water supply of the Roman era still perfectly working. The structure dates back to the first century before Christ, and is the one of the biggest cistern of drinking water ever built in the world of Ancient Rome.

Cisternone Romano di Albano Laziale

The tank fueled the bath of the officier and petty officier and the drinking water system of the Second Parthian Legion, the Imperial Guards of the Emperor Septimius Severus (193 – 211 A.D.), the father of Caracalla.

In the military camp, located where now stands the modern Albano, lived 12,000 people (5,000 soldiers and 7,000 relatives).

castra albana

The Ancient Roman Cistern consists of five gigantic underground naves with barrel vault supported by 36 giant pillars. It can contain more than 10,000 cubic meters of water and has been built within a natural bed of peperino, a vulcanic rock that has hydrophobic properties, and the pillars also have been coated with “cocciopesto”, a special waterproof cement that nowadays the modern manufacturing techniques are rediscovering.

You can book a visit throwgh the City Museum. Tel.: (0039) 069325759

Rocca Priora

Rocca Priora is situated on the external border of the area hosting Castelli Romani. The village overlooks on one side via Anagnina which leads to Lariano and on the other side the beautiful valley crossed from the motorway A1 that offers to travelers the view of Monti Prenestini which are the first mounts you can see white in case of snow.
The village still retains a medieval structure perched on the steep hill and look decadent….. but perhaps this is its charm.
Several aristocratic families owned the castle (the Counts of Tusculum, Annibaldi, Colonna, Savelli) up to the family Rospigliosi who held the property until 1870 when Rocca Priora became municipality.

rocca priora

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CastelGandolfo

When you are visiting Rome in summer, why don’t you plan a trip in Castelgandolfo for a visit to the Pope during the Wensday audience? It could be a really nice experience because the courtyard of the papal palace in Castelgandolfo is much smaller than S.Peter square in Rome and you will be much closer to the Pope.

We suggest you this program:

Take the early train in the morning from Roma Termini to Castelgandolfo station, the 40 minutes ride (and only €2,10 per person) is very relaxing. Then with a short walk along the ridge of the beautiful lake Albano reach the town center…..just follow the crowd of pilgrims you can’t be wrong.

For those who cannot or want to walk we can pick you up at Castelgandolfo station.

We will leave you in the town center where you can enjoy an ice cream or a cappuccino in the little main square and also enjoy the facade of the Pope’s palace. In this occasion you can see very closely the swiss guards with their magnificient costumes.

You will have planty of time before the Pope’s audience.

Around 12,30 p.m. we will meet again for a little tour and we can decide together the itinerary.

When you are tired we will leave you at Ciampino station and you will reach Rome in 15 minutes.

castel gandolfo

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Genzano and his “Infiorata”

The “Infiorata” in Genzano (this year date on 16/17/18 June) is historically linked to the religious celebration of Corpus Christi. The origins of this festival date back to the thirteenth century when, on occasion of the processions, petals were scattered profusely.

In 1625, in the Vatican Basilica, began the tradition of decorating the floor of the church with flowers arranged in a mosaic. This custom spread in many catholic countries. Because of the width and slope of the uphill road which hosts the floral carpet, the one in Genzano is renowned for its beauty and scenography. Throughout the centuries this fest has grown from local folk festival to an international event of art and culture.

The festival, nowadays spread over two weeks, hosts several cultural events: concerts, exhibitions, theatrical performances, handcrafts stands, fashion shows.

infiorata genzano

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The Festival of the Strawberries in Nemi: a tribute to Mother Nature

Every year in the first weekend of June Nemi will delight you with the Festival of the Strawberries. This event is not connected to a religious celebration but it celebrate Mother Earth and its gifts.

The inhabitants in Nemi are able to produce everything with strawberries: liquor (the famous “Fragolino di Nemi”), small tartlets with custard and strawberries, salami with strawberries, and pizza with strawberries.

During the Festival Nemi shows itself in its best shape, all the streets of the village are decorated with flowers and the most beautiful arrangment is rewarded with the “Gold Strawberrie” a jewel created by MILU’ the master jeweler of Nemi.

strawberries nemi

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Why a three breasted woman?

pupazza frascati
La pupazza frascatana

Most people know Frascati for the good wine, but probably you never heard about the biscuit shaped as a woman with three breasts, colled “la Pupazza Frascatana” which is as much famous.

It is prepared only with flour and honey and to enjoy it you need to wait until it has draw some humidity from the environment because just prepared is too hard to eat.

The story is very fanny. In the past times, when the women were engaged in harvesting, they left their babies to the wet nurses, and there was one of them very very good even with the most capricious babies. For this reason she was very appreciated and the mothers were in competition to obtain her services.

However, after sometimes, an incredible discovery was made: she had three breasts, two with milk and the third, fake, with good Frascati wine. And that was the secret of her success.

Once I was telling this story to a group of Canadian people during a tour, and one of them said: “That’s what every mother should need sometimes.”

Do you think the same?

THE LOCANDA MARTORELLI IN ARICCIA (The fantastic story of a small inn)

When you arrive in Ariccia, you’re immediatly enraptured by the scenography of the square and, probably, you don’t notice the two very normal windows that open into a small terrace just above the chemist. But if you look up, you can see the banner on the railing of the balcony, with the image of Goethe. That is the Locanda Martorelli.

The Locanda Martorelli is a historic building closely linked to the Grand Tour d’Italie. It is located in Piazza di Coorte in Ariccia.

The story begin in 1917 when Antonio Martorelli buy the building and turns it into an inn in 1920. Ever since the Inn osted many famous artists who passed for Ariccia in the context of the Grand Tour.

Started as a simple inn, slowly became a meeting poit for musicians, writers, painters who shared the experience of the Grand Tour, changing in  a real academy of painting.

Among the celebrity who have stayed at the famous Inn we can remember G.M. Guglielmo Turner, Antonio Richter, G. Fedrico Overbeck, Nino Costa, Antonio Ligeti, G. Cristiano Andersen, H. Jorgen Hammer, Massimo D’Azeglio, Goethe, Orazio Vernet, Enrico Ibsen, Longfellow, Byron, and Gogol who during his stay wrote a chapter of the novel “Dead Souls”.

This great artists, who spent periods of study and resort in the Locanda, spread through their poetry and painting, the image of the Castelli Romani in the whole Europe.

The special friendship that was created between Mr Martorelli and the Polish painter Taddeo Kuntze, ispired the artist who wanted to honor his friend by decorating the inn. So, he literally covered with paintings throughout the central all of the locanda with a series of tempera wall created between 1770 and  1771 telling the whole history and mythology of the ancient Latin city of Aricia that once included also the modern towns of Genzano and  Nemi.

 

In 1988 the Locanda Martorelli was purchased by the town of Ariccia, very carefully restored and is now used to host art exibitions.

 

 

A FEW OF HISTORY: THE GRAND TOUR

 

Goethes Italian Journe

The Grand Tour was a long trip in Continental Europe made by the rich young European Aristocrats in the Seventeenth Century and intended to perfect their knowledge. This trip could last from a few months to several years. The main destinations were France, Italy and Greece.

During the Tour, the youngs learned to know the politics, culture, arts and ancient history of the European countries. They spent their time doing sightseeings, studying and purchasing local goods.

Italy, with its heritage from ancient Rome, with its monuments, became one of the most popular destination.

Many politicians and diplomats, poets and writers, but also merchants and businessmen, mainly interested in collecting, and sometimes whole families were protagonists of the Tour.

The idea of a trip as a training tool which, by comparison, develop critical awareness, originated in England and from there spread to Continental  Europe and later to America. The disposition of English culture towards the empiricism, determines the preference for direct experience instead of the dogmatism of the medieval scholastic tradition.

The term “Grand Tour” appeared for the first time in 1670 in the “Voyage of Italy, or a complete journey through Italy” of Richard Lassels.

The eighteenth century saw a boom of the Grand Tour. At the end of 1700 every respectable European man of culture must have completed at least one journey in Italy.

The countryside around Rome, and especially “Castelli Romani” were much appreciated by this host of travelers. Many of great artists who hosted in Castelli Romani stayed in the “Locanda Martorelli” in Ariccia. Among them there were G.M.Guglielmo Turner, A.Richter, G.F.Overbeck, G.C.Andersen, E.Longfellow, Ibsen, Ivanov, Corot, Stendhal, M.D’Azeglio, Taddeo Kuntze………..Until March 25th museums of Alban and Prenestini hills host the exhibition of the Grand Tour………………to be continued

THE ALBANO MUSEUM

If you are on holiday in the Castelli Romani area, don't lost the opportunity to visit the Albano Museum.

The Museum is housed in the charming neoclassical Villa Ferrajoli, set in the midst of a park of giant magnolias. The main feature of the façade is a tetrastile portico topped by a pediment containing a fine terracotta relief that illustrates the myth about Ceres teaching Triptolemus the art of agriculture.

The delicate paintings that decorate the interiors are the work of Giovanbattista Caretti and are inspired by Classical and Renaissance art.

Visiting the rich collection of the Museum you will retrace the amazing story of Albano, the born of whic is lost in the legend.