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Sustainable garden tour and workshop in Rome

Reach for the rooftops

Chances are you have a packed schedule planned for your city break in Rome. Teeming with art, architecture, culture, and history, not to mention superb culinary offerings, there are endless temptations at every twist and turn of this fascinating and busy metropolis.

But when you’re ready to hit pause, take the elevator to the rooftop sanctuary of Six Senses Rome. As you step out into a verdant slice of sky-garden, take a deep breath, smell the fragrant herbs, gaze at the well-tended plants and flowers, and let the buzz of the streets recede to a murmur.

Mediterranean garden

You’ll be met by Gardener, Matteo De Michele, plant-whisperer and green-fingered extraordinaire who, in a short time, transformed this space into a garden that effortlessly blends aesthetics with practicality.

As he explains: “Everything we plant comes from the Mediterranean. Not only do the plants require very little water, they also support a diverse ecosystem of insects who are super pollinators, working in harmony with nature to minimize pests.”

The entire garden is planted in pots and Matteo has devised a clever irrigation system running around the edge of the rooftop that is fed from a rainwater tank. These energy saving devices ensure he is able to water the plants daily during hot weather while saving precious water resources.

During the tour, you’ll find out about the mature olive and fig trees, productive lemon trees, and a riot of organic herbs that make their way into the kitchen to bring seasonal dishes to life. Plants and herbs grow in mixed pots to better support each other, and as Matteo says, “This is permaculture in action, we respect the seasons, prune, harvest seeds, and recreate what happens in nature.”

Time to get your hands dirty

The kitchen team are welcome to pop upstairs and harvest whatever aromatic herbs they need. On any given day, they can help themselves to thyme of different varieties, rosemary, myrtle, sage, borage, marjoram, jasmine, lemongrass, lemon verbena, lavender, mint (one is a variety that grows wild in the Italian countryside), oregano, and chamomile.

Many of the herbs are harvested and then hung up to dry in our Earth Lab to be used for tea infusions and in our sustainability workshops. As well as herbs, Matteo is growing chili plants from seed, robust fennel bulbs, and delicate strawberries with a deep, aromatic flavor.

One of Matteo’s favorite jobs is repotting mint cuttings as part of the guest tour or with hosts as a welcome ritual when they join the team. You’re welcome to take your cutting home or leave it in Matteo’s care. He promises it’ll be at least twice the size when you next visit!

Brimming with ideas, the one he really wants to see take flight in the future is a beehive or two on the roof, with happy bees making home-buzzed honey.

Back down to Earth Lab

From the roof, you head back downstairs to meet Sustainability Curator, Federico Catalioto, in our Earth Lab, a space dedicated to sustainability projects and engagement in the heart of the hotel. While you’re here, make sure to look down through the glass floor panels at Rome’s oldest known baptism sanctuary, dating back to the 4th century, part of the next-door church, San Marcello al Corso.

Every day at 4:00 pm, Federico hosts fun and engaging sustainability workshops, and both guests and the local community are welcome to take part. He elaborates: “Our workshops are a really tactile and hands-on way for guests of all ages to get involved and learn sustainable ways to make useful items.”

Workshops include making grapefruit beeswax candles and oyster shell candles, herbal tea infusions, and beeswax wraps, recycled paper making, and natural pigment painting.

In honor of a circular system to reduce, reuse, and recycle, the grapefruit flesh goes straight to the kitchens to be incorporated into recipes while the oyster shells are collected after our popular Friday shellfish night at BIVIUM Restaurant-Café-Bar.

What’s next?

Federico has ambitious plans to adapt the brand's sustainable philosophy in an urban context. As he elaborates, “Our aims will be achieved through a program of talks, hosting sustainability experts who share their knowledge and experience, as well as interactive sessions with local artisans to inspire our guests and community. Keep your eyes peeled.”


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