By Filipe Domingues
The 2014-2015 Lay Centre student community marked the end of the academic year with a day trip to the stunning landscape Garden of Ninfa, located just 90 minutes by bus from Rome’s city centre.
The trip was an opportunity for the students to enjoy each other’s company in a relaxed way before the start of exams and their departure from Rome at the end of June.
Among the students leaving The Lay Centre this June, one will have earned a doctorate in theology and three will have earned their licentiates. Another student will have completed certificate in interreligious studies. Several students will return in the fall to complete their studies.
Among the members of the community, Michael Canaris will move on to become an assistant professor of ecclesiology and systematic theology at the Institute for Pastoral Studies at Loyola University in Chicago.
Isaias Marcano, a Mozambican licentiate student at the Urbanianum, will also head to Chicago this summer on scholarship to attend a conference on theology, globalization and the free-market economy, and to perfect his English.
About the Garden of Ninfa
The Garden of Ninfa is one of those hidden spots in Italy that one can hardly imagine exists so close to Rome; it is considered one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the world.
Exotic plants from various parts of the world and numerous crystal clear watercourses run among the ruins of the ancient settlement of Ninfa, creating a scene that recalls an Impressionist painting or a romantic film. On 16 May, The Lay Centre‘s resident community went to the Garden of Ninfa for its annual day trip.
The garden is located near the town of Cisterna di Latina, central Italy, and its name comes from the first Roman building placed in that area, a small temple dedicated to Naiad nymphs, gods of spring water. When it became a territory of the Pontifical State, Ninfa developed into a town and a commercial toll.
Papal wars and inter-family disputes provoked the collapse of medieval Ninfa. In the 1920s, the Caetani family, who owned the territory, decided to restore it, not as a city but as a well-planned garden in typical Anglo-Saxon style (read more about the story of Ninfa).
It was the first time our community had the chance to go to Ninfa for a guided tour. While we walked among the vegetation, we noticed the garden’s different microclimates and rare eco-systems, set up by the watercourses and the huge variety of international plants. For a moment, we forgot we were in Italy!
It was fun to guess the origin of a few plants and trees, since many of them were brought all the way from China, Brazil and the United States. And, as is custom in Italy, the day trip ended with a delicious Italian meal at a restaurant in the neighbouring hill town of Sermotena.