Sacro Bosco di Bomarzo


Bomarzo, a village in Lazio at the foot of Mount Cimino, possesses a unique work, the Villa of Marvels, also called the Sacred Wood or Park of Monsters. It was designed by Prince Vicino Orsini and the great architect Pirro Ligorio in 1552. 

The park is unique, even it belongs the erudite architectural-naturalistic culture of the second half of the sixteenth century. Refined Italian style gardens follow geometric and perspective rationality, with embellishments such as wide terraces, fountains with water games and mannerist sculptures. On the contrary, the learned 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 carvel mottoes and inscriptions.  
The Sacred Wood is an unusual solution which does not follow sixteenth century usage; the different elements have no perspective relationship between each other and have no coherence or common proportions. Everything is invented with iconological criteria which escape even the most impassioned scholars, a labyrinth of symbol which envelopes anyone who enters. They inspired many artists at the time 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 Dalì, Mario Praz and Maurizio Calvesi after centuries of neglect. 

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