The Park of Monsters near Rome
Leaving Rome for a day or two doesn’t always mean heading to a big city, beach or popular destination. Sometimes, a small town escape is all you need. Bomarzo, a quaint village located in the province of Viterbo, is the perfect place to experience a the magic of a medieval town. And lucky for you, it’s not far from Rome.
Perched atop a rocky ridge, Bomarzo offers scenic landscapes that are both enchanting and picturesque. The scenery, history and nearby attractions make it a great getaway for couples or families alike, and with even more options in the surrounding area, there’s something for all ages.
The Park of the Monsters
This one-of-a-kind park, known as Il Parco dei Mostri (The Park of Monsters) or Sacro Bosco (Sacred Forest), was designed by architect Pirro Ligorio and boasts over 20 different statues dating back to 1552. This enchanted place was long forgotten, only to be rediscovered and restored in 1954. A visit here is a must: it is the oldest sculpture park in the modern world. A peculiar, bizarre microcosm that escapes the laws of logic. Inspired by mythology and fantasy, you’ll come across incredibly unique works of art in this “Villa of Wonders”, such as the Hercules, “Ninfeo”, and the Temple stone statues to name a few. In this charming fantasy place, dream and illusion rule. Get lost walking among these wonderful stone sculptures, which suddenly sprout among the dense vegetation: let the wonder lead you to a fairy-tale kingdom, on the border between reality and mystery. “Every thought flies”: this is written above the gaping jaws of one of the most disturbing sculptures in the park, a creature coming from the realm of the absurd which opens its mouth widely, ready to swallow your deepest and most secret thoughts.
Località Giardino, Bomarzo
Opening times: 9am-7pm (from March to October); 9am-5pm (from November to February)
Tickets: €13 (€8 children)
Centro Botanico Moutan
Another popular attraction to visit is the Centro Botanico Moutan, only a short 15-minute drive from the town of Bomarzo. Moutan is the Chinese word for peony, which is the national flower of China. It’s the world’s largest collection of tree and herbaceous peonies (there are over 200,000 peonies here!) Since 2003 the Center has been open to visitors: the blossoming season is April and May, where visitors can come and enjoy the blooms a their best. Inside the garden there are evocative corners where you can enjoy the colors and scents of nature. Surrounded by natural beauty, the rare collection of peonies extends as far as the eye can see over an area of fifteen hectares, filled with holm oaks, cypresses, oaks and olive trees. And if you want to have a break during the visit, you can sit at the Colour café, an informal and refined “garden restaurant”, dominated by a familiar atmosphere.
S.S. Ortana, 46, Viterbo
Opening times: 9.30am-6pm (8 April-20 May)
Like most ancient castles, Castello Orsini is perched on the top of a hill overlooking the narrow, elongated town below. This impressive building was commissioned in 1519 by Giovanni Corrado Orsini to Baldassarre Peruzzi, a famous architect who had been appointed, in those same years, as coadjutor of the construction of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Visit this noble residence, a jewel of Renaissance architecture, for only 2 euros on the weekend to learn more about the historical town and admire the architecture and art that come along with it. Navigating the winding streets to get there make the trek to the castle even more fun!
Castello Orsini. Via Borghese, 01020,
How to get to Bomarzo
It’s really difficult to reach the Park of Bomarzo from Rome by public transports. We suggest you to rent a car or hire an NCC, a private vehicle with driver.
By car: Coming from the North you take the SP 12 from Orvieto. From the South, you take the SS 2 Cassia until Montefiascone, then the SS 71 Umbro-Casentinese in the direction of Orvieto and finally the SP 130 heading for Bagnoregio.