The park of Monsters, wonders and Gods in Bomarzo

Bomarzo monster head CC BY-NC 2.0, genibee

Which is an amazing location almost unknown to the main tour guide, yet totally worth a trip? Our answer is Bomarzo Monster Park! It is located in northern Lazio and it  is a pretty interesting and strange park where to bring children and kids. Disseminated inside the park a number of statue resembling some mythological creatures that you and your family will find incredible.  There are a collection of wonders and monsters creating a fabulous yet greatly spooky atmosphere. Bomarzo Monster Park is near the border of the Umbria and a good starting point coming from Rome in the central regions. Let’s explore and taste the mysterious taste coming from this Reinassance location.

Why has somebody decided to built this? The park of Monsters of Bomarzo was an idea of Pirro Ligorio. the architect who finished the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Rome after the death of Michelangelo! He built also the glorious Villa d’Este in Tivoli. Why did an important architect ake the commision? Prince Pier Francesco Orsini (1523-1585), called Vicino, asked him to. He was a “condottiero” ( captain) and patron of the arts. When his heart got broken at the death of his beloved wife Giulia Farnese, to commemorate her memory he wanted this fantastic park.

The sculptures are majestic and enormous, born from the hands of Simone Moschino. Some of them dwelling between mythology and fantasy are sculpted in the bedrock, a predominantly natural figure in the barren landscape. The park was ready in 1552 and the “Villa of Wonders” was left in oblivion till 1954. During the 19th  and 20th centuries the garden remained neglected, almost wild. But a big revival was about to hit this extraordinary yet forgotten location: in the 1970s a program of restoration was pushed by the owners, the Bettini family, and the garden with the statues is becoming a major tourist attraction in the area, though it is still private property.

The park of Bomarzo aims to astonish the audience and its symbolism is still nowadays for a modern tourist somehow quiet  arcane and magical: the large sculpture of Hannibal ‘s war elephants are giants and one mangles a Roman legionary. The statue of Ceres is on the bare ground, with a vase of veggie on her head.

The reason for the layout and design of the garden? Nobody can’t give a precise clue. Maybe the statues were meant to reproduce the perfect symmetry of the great Renaissance gardens nearby at Villa Farnese and Villa Lante. If you get here you can’t miss a visit to the little Casa Pendente (“Leaning House”) a sort of watch tower totally leaning to a side!!!

The many monstrous statues are put around pretty randomly. Why? Maybe the reason is engraved in one of the obelisks on which we can read the motto sol per sfogare il Core (“just to set the heart free”).

The suggestions and influences of the Bomarzo Park are interesting in the modern times: the surrealistic fleur of the “Parco dei Mostri” stroke Jean Cocteau and the great painter Salvador Dalí , who loved discussing it. The French artist Niki de Saint Phalle drew a direct inspiration when she created in the ’70 her Tarot Garden, the beautiful Giardino dei Tarocchi, another location on the northen Lazio to visit and enjoy with your family.
The love-story behind Bomarzo and the life of Pier Francesco Orsini are thetopic of  Bomarzo (1962), a novel by Manuel Mujica Láinez.   The Argentinian writer wrote a libretto based on his novel, and  the opera Bomarzo was in Washington in 1967: the Argentine government labelled it as sexually offensive.


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