While most people at home would immediately think of the P.C. Hockey team’s recent national championship victory in the TD Garden of Boston when they hear of “Friars in the Garden”, this Blog is actually about our recent day trip with CEA to the famous Ninfa Gardens, a beautiful nature reserve south of Rome.
All of our day trips and excursions have as their goal some sort of Italian cultural immersion. But this outing could have even been dubbed an “environmental immersion”. The Ninfa Gardens, declared a protected natural monument in 2000, include ruins of a medieval town, an English-style romantic garden, a 17th century hortus conclusus, a river, and a lake. The best time for viewing is the Spring with an extravaganza of blooming plants, flowers, and trees.
This day trip was part of the curriculum of the popular “Environmental Ethics” class offered to P.C. students to fulfill their ethics core requirement. Not a bad homework assignment! Ninfa combines history, architecture, and nature. One of the internationally famous aspects of the Gardens is its micro-climate and rare eco-system due to its location between the two contrasting geological formations of the Pontine plain and the Lepini hills. It faces south and has at least four natural springs feeding the gardens with pure spring water and keeping the atmosphere temperate.
It is well known that Pope Francis has made environmental awareness part of his pontificate. He has spoken about it in numerous speeches and press conferences, emphasizing the moral dimensions of protecting the environment. Indeed, the Vatican will sponsor a one day conference entitled: “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity” next week here in Rome. The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will open the conference which will be attended by the economist Jeffrey Sachs, other world and religious leaders, and of course, many scientists. The conference is in anticipation of Pope Francis’ forth-coming encyclical on global warming and the environment, set to be released this summer.
Our tour of the Ninfa Gardens complex not only provided a wonderful Spring day experience of sights, sounds (over 150 types of birds!), and smells (so many flowers in bloom!), in anticipation of Earth Day this week, it also gave us a chance to think about Genesis and the human responsibility of the stewardship of creation.