A remarkable collection of black-and-white photographs featuring a unique garden in the Italian countryside.
Located approximately 45 miles southeast of Rome, Ninfa represents the passing of many centuries in Roman and Italian history, but it also embodies a personal narrative for Kromer, who first visited the area in 1971 as a doctoral student. Based on the images in this book, produced during five visits between 2000 and 2005, it’s easy to see why Ninfa captivated her and beckoned her to return after an absence of 27 years. With her precise yet evocative writing style, Kromer reveals what attracts her so strongly to this wondrous garden. “To me, as an artist and former classical scholar, the tower, the walls, and ruined churches speak of its rich culture and history,” she says. “As someone who has worked on houses and in gardens, I am equally moved by the planning and infinite care that are taken in maintaining this oasi, as it is called in Italian.” Likewise, Kromer explains the history of the region and the botanical, structural and logistical decisions made by the Caetani family, which helped make Ninfa so distinctive. The author concisely documents the conditions that led to the prevalence of malaria in the area and then helpfully provides an entry in the annotated bibliography for those who wish to investigate the matter further. Kromer acknowledges the individuals who made it possible for her to access locations off the beaten path, enhancing the singular nature of this project. In some of the images, the interplay of landscape, water, foliage and historic structures conveys a meditative stillness, while other photos display a sort of shimmering quality despite the lack of color. Each photograph stands alone on an entire page for a captivating visual display, though the written passages constitute an integral, contextualizing element that’s laudable in its own right.
An impressive work that achieves an admirable balance between text and image.