The Rose Garden

May 21, 2008 / Local Interest
Just a pretty, silly rose garden, right? In Rome, think again…

Tacitus mentions that in the 3rd century b.c., even before the temple to the goddess Flora was built here, the area was already dedicated to the cultivation of flowers. Fast forward to 1645 when the plot of land was “gifted” to Rome’s Jewish community for both the cultivation of food… and for the community to use as a cemetery.

Three hundred years later, the Fascists decided to move the Jewish cemetery and “reclaim” the land for the city. After the fall of the regime, the war, and reconstruction, the area was left largely untouched until 1950 when the City Hall, together with the assent of the Jewish Community, decided to turn the area into the city’s rose garden. As you take a walk around the garden you’ll find two columns commemorating the area’s sacred origins, and will notice that the upper section’s walkways are laid out in the shape of a menorah.

The upper area holds the garden’s quite important “permanent” collection. For example, an Old Garden rose thought to be extinct and lost forever turned out to be alive and well, thank you very much, right here.

The smaller lower section instead is home to the entries in Rome’s annual Rose Show. The plants for each year’s show, however, are brought in two years before hand in order to let them grow and bloom properly, so for example you can already sneak a peak at the entries for 2009 and 2010.

While not a large garden by any means at 90,000 square feet, the setting more than makes up for it, with the Circus Maximus at your feet and the ruins of the Palatine hill and Imperial Palaces as a back drop. No surprise then that someone was romantically inspired to paint the following note/graffiti directly on the sidewalk in foot high letters right at the entrance to the garden . . . Nessuna rosa sará mai piú bella di te! Ti amo, tuo Mimí (No rose shall ever be more beautiful than you! I love you, your Mimí)

Graffiti or not, can’t say he could have chosen a better spot to say it.


by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

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