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Traveling in Tuscany
             
 
I T         N L
Bomarzo



 

Surroundings
       
   

Bomarzo


   
   

Bomarzo is a small town, located near Viterbo on the road to Orta.
It is the Orsini family's hereditary fief. The Castle rises at the edge of this small town. The so called Park of the Monsters just outside the city of Bomarzo is a Late Renaissance manieristic garden gallery of sculptures and architecture commissioned in the 16th century by Vicino Orsini. It includes also a palace, designed by Baldassarre Peruzzi, and a garden with grotesque stone sculptures of monstrous porportions, depiciting mythological personalities and creatures taken from classical fables: Pergasus, Hercules, Neptune, Cera.
Prince Pier Francesco Orsini built the villa in 1552. Mourning the death of his wife, Giulia Farnese, he erected a temple and statuary in her honor on the grounds. [1] The villa was designed by Architect Pirro Ligorio. Giovanni Bettini purchased the property in 1954, eventually opening it to the public.

The residence's gardens were created by Vicino Orsini, the Duke of Bomarzo. He was born in 1528 and died in 1588. An educated humanist, he was interested in the Arts and was their patron. He devoted his life to the happiness of his house and his wife, Julia Farnese. After Julia Farnese's death, he created the plan for a garden, Bomarzo Park.
He didn't call this garden a giardino, but Bosco Sacro, a Sacred Grove or Bosco dei Monstri, the Monsters' grove. Monster must be understood in the Latin meaning of monstrare, which means to show and demonstrate. This then means that from stop to stop, from stage to stage, each element is a component of an immense, very neoplatonic poem to his lost love. To create this garden, he called on one of the greatest landscapers and architects of his time, Pirro Ligorio.

After the death of Pope Paul III Vicino Orsini fought at the side of the Farnese Dukes of Castro who supported France against Spain. He was taken prisoner for two years (1553-55). He was then involved by Pope Paul IV in a war against Spain which ended in total disaster. After this event he decided to retire to Bomarzo and to dedicate himself to the construction of a Sacred Wood which would represent his view of life.
At the time Vicino Orsini decided to build his Sacred Wood other gardens were in the process of being designed or completed at Caprarola, Bagnaia and Tivoli. They were all designed along the slope of a hill and had a very symmetrical structure. Vicino Orsini chose instead a hidden valley, rather far from his palace, probably because big boulders of peperino, a volcanic rock easy to cut, were available there. [2]


Unfortunately, as with most of the Renaissance gardens, the work was neglected.
When it was revisited in the beginning of this century, it was overgrown with trees, everything was half collapsed, all of which merely gave the garden an even more fantastic aspect. It was at this time that André Pieyre de Mandiargue visited and wrote a sublime treatise on the sleeping garden of Bomarzo.


   
   

Bomarzo, Bosco Sacro, Neptune

 

 
   

Il parco dei Mostri di Bomarzo


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.

The park of Monsters of Bomarzo was devised by the architect Pirro Ligorio (he completed the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Rome after the death of Michelangelo and built Villa d'Este in Tivoli) on commision of Prince Pier Francesco Orsini, called Vicino, only to vent the heart broken at the death of is wife Giulia Farnese.
The park was born in 1552 as "Villa of Wonders" to be the only one of it's kind in the world.

The Park of Monsters remained in oblivion till 1954 when it was bought by Mr Giovanni Bettini who with loving care has managed it.

A visit to the park will unfold in a series of stages ranging between mythology and fantasy.

 

 


Il Parco dei Mostri di Bomarzo


L'Orco classico



Casa pendente


Bomarzo and the Orsini palace seen from the valley where the Sacred Wood is situated (in the foreground a boulder with ancient tombs)



Gardens in Italy | Il parco dei mostri di Bomarzo | The Park of the Monsters, Bomarzo

In 1950 Michelangelo Antonioni realised a shortmovie about the park, La villa dei mostri.

Michelangelo Antonioni. La villa dei mostri. 1950



Parco dei Mostri | www.parcodeimostri.com



[1] Vicino Orsini was born in 1528 and died in 1588. An educated humanist, he was interested in the Arts and was their patron. He devoted his life to the happiness of his house and his wife, Julia Farnese. After Julia Farnese's death, he created the plan for a garden, Bomarzo Park.
He didn't call this garden a giardino, but Bosco Sacro, a Sacred Grove or Bosco dei Monstri, the Monsters' grove. Monster must be understood in the Latin meaning of monstrare, which means to show and demonstrate. This then means that from stop to stop, from stage to stage, each element is a component of an immense, very neoplatonic poem to his lost love. To create this garden, he called on one of the greatest landscapers and architects of his time, Pirro Ligorio.
[2] Source: Rome in the footsteps of a 1750 traveller | www.romeartlover.it

This article incorporates material from the Wikipedia articles Bomarzo and Pier Francesco Orsini, published under the GNU Free Documentation License.This article incorporates information from the revision as of 2009-06-27 of the equivalent article on the French Wikipedia. Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Parco dei Mostri (Bomarzo)

The main attraction of Viterbo is the town's medieval architecture: the remains of its grand Papal Palace (Palazzo dei Papi) and the humbler medieval lanes. Other individual sights of interest include a couple of museums, the town Cathedral and a selection of other palazzi and churches. Thanks to the town's lack of development since its heyday in the Middle Ages, it is now famed for one of the best-preserved medieval centres in Italy, popular with film crews in search of authentic atmosphere. A pleasant half-hour can be spent wandering the medieval lanes of San Pellegrino, a historical area of unaltered stone houses
Just outside Viterbo are the natural hot springs of Bullicame, known since ancient times. Nowadays there is a thermal spa complex on the site, called Terme dei Papi (Spa of the Popes).

In the province are also worth a mention the village of Bagnaia and the famous Villa Lante, a wonderful example of late Renaissance residence with an Italian garden, whose design is attributed to Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola as well as that of the Palazzo Farnese in Caprarola, another example of Renaissance pentagonal residence. The ancient village of Montecalvello rises around a castle where the famous Balthus, a contemporary painter, lived for thirty years.

The Villa Farnese, also known as Villa Caprarola, is a mansion in the town of Caprarola. Around 1520 Antonio da Sangallo il Giovane, the architect of theFarnese family, expert in military architecture, was given the task of designing the residence of Caprarola. He imagined a building that, from the highest point of the country, showed the strong presence and the influence of the Farnese around the whole territory. The structure, pentagonal, with five angular and defensive bastions in the draft of Sangallo has the look and the function of a real fortress.
The garden retreat in the woods, designed by Vignola, is a place of wonder. It lies in a glade at the end of a long path and is known as the Casino del Piacere (House of Pleasure). There is a water staircase, fountains, terraces, a casino and logia. It was used as a private retreat by Cardinal Odorado Farnese.

Gardens in Italy | Villa Lante | Villa Farnese

 

 
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