A Secret Roman Garden

November 16, 2007 / Art & Archaeology
Rome
The Room of Livia, built at the beginning of the Empire, is one of the great indoor spaces of ancient Rome still visible today. As wife and business partner of the first emperor Caesar Augustus (or Octavian), the dinners that she hosted here which often lasted for days are legendary. In addition to her hospitality and being a gourmet, classical sources describe her as a renowned master gardener as well.

The dining room was located in the deep underground of her villa. Its temperature was so stable, winter or summer, that the frescoes are incredibly well preserved, with color and detail intact even after two millennia.

The frescoes depict early Empire flora and landscape, and show an idealized night view of her other garden above ground, but with everything in bloom simultaneously. She was a gardener’s gardener!

Visit this secret “garden” at Palazzo Massimo alle Terme in Rome, across from Termini Station. It’s just the ticket when you are hankering for garden parties during these cold and wet months!

Lisa Finnerty

by Lisa Finnerty

Founder of Secret Gardens Italy, www.SecretGardensItaly.com, a tour company of the grand and historic Italian gardens, and www.yourgardenshow.com, a social network for gardeners.

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