Just 70 km north of Rome, in the Viterbo province of Lazio, lies the village of Bomarzo. In recent history, Bomarzo has probably been best-known for its gardens and “sacred grove” but the picturesque town itself probably dates back to Etruscan times.
This part of Lazio is known as Tuscia which includes numerous other fairy-tale like hamlets like Civita di Bagnoregio, Sant’Angelo di Roccalvecce, and Lake Bolsena. Bomarzo with its less than 2,000 residents sits upon a hill overlooking the lush Tevere valley.
Bomarzo’s Historic Center
Palazzo Orsini dates back to the 15th century and is now the seat of the municipality. The interior walls are adorned with fabulous frescoes from the Pietro da Cortona School. Of course, every Italian town has its Duomo and Bomarzo’s Santa Maria Assunta in Cielo Church dates to the 15th century although the belltower is believed to have been erected on an ancient Etruscan site.
If you want to enjoy more panoramic views of the surrounding area then head for the Orsini Castle as well!
The Sacred Grove
The Sacred Grove (Sacro Bosco) is what really draws people to Bomarzo. Also known as the “Monsters’ Park”, this unusual garden is unique in the entire world. It was designed by Prince Vicino Orsini in 1552 to include Italian gardens alongside fountains and mannerist sculptures.
Figures of monsters, dragons, and mythological creatures were carved out of enormous boulders that do not adhere to laws of proportion making it totally eccentric by 15th-century standards. The gardens were so obscure that after Vicino’s death, people almost completely lost interest in them leaving them in a state of abandonment.
They wouldn’t be appreciated again until a new generation of artists and intellectuals like von Goethe and Dali saw their potential. In fact, they eventually inspired Niki de Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden in Tuscany.
We’re sure that you’ll enjoy your stay in beautiful Bomarzo and its “monstrous” gardens!