Few subjects in the ancient world are so richly documented by literary sources and archaeological finds as the history of the garden and the evolution through which it became a place of meditation, study and experimentation in both technical and naturalist knowledge.
Through these sources, visitors are led to explore an ideal itinerary, from the hanging gardens of Babylon, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, to those of Greek mythology lying at the furthermost boundaries of the world, from sacred groves to the green lawns that became integral parts of the great philosophical schools. A true laboratory of nature, the garden of the Hellenic Age served as background for innovative research in the naturalist, scientific and technological fields.
In the Roman world, fountains and gardens transformed the image of private residences as well as cities. The private garden, the green haven bounded by domestic walls or surrounding a great villa, was not only the place dedicated to otium, but also an illustration of the encyclopaedic taste for cultivating a wide variety of species grown for nutritional, cosmetic and pharmaceutical purposes. In the great villas of the nobility some gardens emulated landscapes of oriental derivation, those luxuriant “paradises” echoed in the Imperial Age by the numerous paintings showing gardens abounding in flora and fauna.
Archaeological findings, frescoes and fascinating working models demonstrate water courses of various kinds, indispensable features found in all of the gardens studied.