Bomarzo and its magical gardens

Bomarzo is a little old town in the province of Viterbo – and perfect for an unusual and interesting day out with the family.

This town is renowned for its mysterious and enchanting gardens called the ‘Sacred Grove‘ or the ‘Monsters’ Grove‘ due to the presence of various grotesque stone sculptures.

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Italian Renaissance gardens are well known in central Italy and there are plenty of them that can still be visited but this one is a bit different in style and it seems it was designed more to impress or even scare rather than to produce aesthetical delight.

The park, situated at the base of a natural amphi­theatre, was commis­sioned in the 16th century by Pier Francesco Orsini in memory of his beloved wife Giulia Farnese.

The architect Pirro Ligorio designed this aston­ishing piece of art, which had been left abandoned since the Orsini prince’s death for many centuries but has recently been refur­bished to the joy of all its visitors who come here attracted by its fame and get completely enchanted in this labyrinth full of symbolic capturing figures.

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The sphinx will welcome you at the entrance, followed by a series of enigmatic and bizarre statues including: one of Hannibal’s war elephants, the group of the Giants, the dragons’ fight, the huge turtle with a feminine figure on top, the crooked house, the ogre with its big open mouth, the statue of Ceres laying on the ground with a vase of fruits on her head and various other monsters.

Children love this place where they can enjoy an old style playground while adults love instead the queerness of this Mannerist open-air masterpiece.

The park is open every day.

Text by Alessandra Andreani, photos by Russ Willey