This spring, my friend Candy took me on another day trip around Rome to Bomarzo, Italy, and the Garden of Monsters, Sacro Bosco. (The Sacred Wood) This Italian village in Lazio is at the foot of Mount Cimino and is a wonderful day trip from Rome if you are on your way to Perugia, Tuscany, or Venice.
Check out our other day trip to Tivoli and the Villa d’Este too! We had so much fun exploring Lazio and the region. Here’s a little more about Sacro Bosco or the Garden of Monsters.
Garden of Monsters
Designed by Prince Vicino Orsini and the great architect Pirro Ligorio in 1552 this park is so unique, interesting, and one-of-a-kind.
Its expansive architectural-naturalistic design does not reflect the second half of the sixteenth century in the geometric and its large perspective of their water features and monuments. The garden also has wide terraces, fountains that include water games, and human, God-like sculptures.
The educated Prince of Bomarzo dedicated himself to creating an eccentric “wood” having the blocks of peperino emerging from the ground sculpted into enigmatic figures of monsters, dragons, mythological subjects and exotic animals, a crooked house, a funerary temple, fountains, seats, and obelisks with carved mottoes and inscriptions.
The Sacred Wood is not typical and does not follow sixteenth-century usage. The different elements really have no perspective with each other and have no coherence or common proportions.
Most people are puzzled because everything was invented with iconological criteria which are super hard to fathom. A labyrinth of symbols that envelopes anyone who enters. The garden has inspired many artists including Annibal Caro, Bitussi, and Cardinal Madruzzo.
After the death of Vicino Orsini nobody took charge of the place and it only began to be appreciated by intellectuals and artists such as Claude Lorrain, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Salvador Dali, Mario Praz and Maurizio Calvesi after centuries of neglect.
The complex works of maintenance and restoration have been extensive. Visitors to the gardens can organize a guided tour and discover the place, as close as possible to the original idea of the designer who, deliberately, to test the cultural ability of users, carefully avoids any clear explanation allowing visitors their own interpretation of what they are seeing.
How to get there
From Rome, Bomarzo is just over an hour north on your way to Tuscany or Venice. It was a beautiful drive as well through the Bracciano Martignano region of Italy.
Tickets for the park are €13 for adults and €8 children 4-13. It is handicapped accessible as well. Parts of the trail were a bit challenging though. There is a group rate, but you must have a minimum of 30 passengers.
Photo Ops galore!
If you are on social media or just like taking super fun pictures, this garden has a plethora of opportunities to grab some cool photos. Candy and I had a ball walking the gardens and discovering some of the peculiar sculptures and buildings.
Catch a bite to eat
After walking the gardens, Candy and I decided to stop at the terrace restaurant in the gardens. It was quick, delicious, and had a beautiful setting. I highly recommend having lunch here and there are bathrooms close by.
Bomarzo the town
After our tour of Sacro Bosco, we decided to investigate this hillside town just a bit more. In Italy, you can rest assured that the town will have some type of uniqueness to it and we were right. As we climbed the narrow streets to the Piazza Duomo, where we saw the Duomo di Bomarzo. This town was super quiet and small apartments were adorned with fresh spring flowers, and cats strolled through the streets acting as if they owned the town.
We found hiking trails around the city, small restaurants, and shops too. It was quite a peaceful walk on a gorgeous spring day.
This would be a great pit stop on a tour whether you are traveling north to Tuscany or heading south to Rome or Naples. It would be restful, fun, and interesting.
Remember to build in periods of rest in your itinerary. Go, go, go will only make your tired and forget all the wonderful surprises you’ve had on your adventure.
Until next time…
It’s always an adventure when you ©Travel with Wendy!
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