There is a magical and surreal place near Viterbo. A grotesque garden where you can lose yourself among the extravagant statues that populate it: the monsters of Bomarzo.
It's a dreamlike place, a fantastic world perfect for visiting with the kids: lots of green spaces for a picnic with the whole family and for having fun together.
Once inside, reality fades to make room for the dream: a bit like Alice in Wonderland, only in a slightly more bizarre form.
It was created by Pirro Ligorio on behalf of Prince Pier Francesco Orsini. The intent was probably to create a place of fantasy, where once entered, one removes the heaviness of reality to "ease the heart", to quote the Prince.
To ease his heart which was shattered by the loss of his beloved wife Giulia Farnese and finally free him from pain.
This was perhaps the intent that led him to commission its creation: to give everyone a "safe" place where they can feel free and light.
The Bomarzo Park is better known as the Park of the Monsters because it is inhabited by fantastical creatures. On the surface they may look like simple stone boulders, but as one advances into the gardens, one has the feeling of being observed by something "genuinely" existing. At least inside the gardens.
These creatures are references to mythology: the head of the sea monster Proteus-Glaucus, the statue of the God Neptune, the Winged Pegasus, the giant Turtle and the Elephant. Mythical figures like the statue of Echidina: half woman and half serpent.
The Fight between the Giants is certainly among the most beautiful and impressive: the statue represents Hercules who kills Caco, the son of the God Vulcan.
But the statue that fascinates but worries even more is surely that of the Ogre with its mouth wide open. "Those who enter, leave all reason behind" are the words inscribed on the ogre's mouth. Inside, there is a table with chairs for visitors to use.
The wood of this park is considered "sacred". In fact, it is full of optical illusions that disorient visitors so that they abandon their certainties. Was this the intent of the prince?
To stir consciences to make us understand that nothing in this world is really certain. And that then, the only way out is escape into a surreal dimension. Surreal like the style of the great artist Salvador Dalì who made the dream his main theme. The Sacred Wood of the Gardens of Bomarzo was precisely one of the places from which the artist drew inspiration for his paintings, sculptures and other artistic expressions.
If you want to test your ability to remain rational and not give in to imagination, try entering the Leaning House. An amazing experience that will put your balance to the test.
The Bomarzo Park is located in the locality of the same name, in the province of Viterbo. The easiest way to reach the park is by car, taking the Autostrada del Sole (A1). For those coming from the north, the Attigliano exit is recommended, while for those coming from the south, take the Orte exit. Then just follow the signs.
Travelling by public transport, the best solution is to get to the stations of Orte or Viterbo and once you arrive at the station take the bus towards the park.
Tickets cost 10 euros for adults and 8 euros for children and teenagers aged from 4 to 13.
The park is open every day, however, for those coming from far away, it's always better to call before setting off.
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