Tucked away in a tiny street near the center of Rione Sanita lies a peculiar secret garden. Hidden away from roving eyes, accessible only by appointment, this beautiful 10,000 square foot yard hides a wealth of history and mystery.
Flushed with mandarin, lemon, even banana plants, fountains, a stage for outdoor theater and music performances, and a litter of over 20 cats, this quiet idyll is operated and cared for by the caretaker Gennaro Oliveiro.
Oliveiro leads guests through the gardens, showcasing the cat Babuk’s ashes and various plaques that date back 500 years, and most importantly, guests can visit the hypogeum.
Descending six flights of dark stairs, visitors are transported far beneath the city lights and into the dark, damp caverns beneath. Water drips from above, small Roman statues line the corridors, and at the bottom, a rope warns of further movement, allowing visitors to stand for a moment and take in the large underground room.
For 10 euros, visitors can also see the conservatory with walls adorned with cat memorabilia. All that’s left to do is take some photographs and bid Oliveiro farewell.
Know Before You Go
To book an appointment you need to call Gennaro directly, his number is: +39-338-625-5810. He speaks limited English, fluent Italian of course, and decent French and Spanish.