There is a new garden open to the public in Rome, a hortus conclusus (enclosed garden) which has been recreated in a disused space inside the Museo della Civilt Romana at EUR by a group of about 30 criminal offenders. For four years the young people, aged from 16 to 18, have studied, planned, cleaned, planted and furnished the area put at their disposal. They have succeeded in reproducing a typical ornamental garden belonging to a nobleman in ancient Roman times, including the flowers that the Romans loved and the frescoed walls similar to those in villas of the same period. The project was proposed and overseen by Lillo Di Mauro, president of the Consulta Penitenziaria and one of the organisers of the Cooperativa Cecilia, to whom the young offenders were entrusted. It has the support of the city administration (which financed the work with about ?35,000) and it has had technical and scientific advice from the city superintendency for fine arts.

The young people are mostly from Rome, but there is one from China and some from Africa and eastern Europe.

Di Lillo explained that the project has been an exercise to encourage the young offenders, many of whom have had no conventional education, to change their values and in some way to repay the damage that they have done to society.

Museo della Civilt Romana, Piazza G. Agnelli 10, EUR. Tel. 065926135. 09.00 -14.00, Sunday and holidays 09.00 13.30, Monday closed.