The Monster's Park of Bomarzo

posted Mar 5, 2012, 1:03 AM by Stefano Capoccioni
Monster's Park in Bomarzo near Rome
In the region of Lazio, the marvellous land of the Etruscans, the Romans and the Middle Ages, lies the village of Bomarzo which shares all the glory of the region's illustrious history and possesses an historical site which is the only one of its kind in the world: "The Villa Of Marvels". In the gardens of other villas in Lazio you will find certain similirities, but the prototype of all these gardens remains the "Sacred Wood of Bomarzo", that popular fancy rebaptized as Monster's Park. Prince Pier Francesco Orsini, known as Vicino, wanted such a park "only to ease the heart". It was designed and laid out by the great architect, Pirro Ligorio, who was summoned to work at Saint Peter's in Vaticano after the death of Michelangelo. Without either Prince Orsini or Ligorio ever realizing it, a timeless masterpiece was born. When you visit this park you will go from surprise to surprise as animals and figures in stone suddenly appear: the Elephant that is about to kill a Warrior, the fighting Dragons, the Ogre in whose mouth you could pic-nic, Sleeping Beauty, Hercules tearing Cacus apart, Bears in ambush, animals with three heads, Neptune presiding figures, and finally a globe of the world balanced on the head of an Orc with a model of the Orsini Castle on top representing the power of his family. These sculptures carred out of massive boulders in situ, appearing to rise up out of the very ground as if by magic. It all goes back to the 16th Century (1552), the period which saw the development of an ideal of life between Prince and Courtier. This wood has inspired many important artists and poets of the time such as Annibal Caro, Bitussi and Cardinal Madruzzo wanted to express their wonder and wished to leave their "epigraphs and verses" carved here and there. After Vicino Orsini's death nobody cared any longer for this jewel of mannerist art and after centuries of oblivion has been saved and restored for the joy of intellectuals, men of letters, artists and tourists that come from all over the world to admire this splendid garden.