Il Parco dei Mostri di Bomarzo

May 4, 2010 / Art & Archaeology
Bomarzo, Viterbo
S_Monster-Park-ManThe idea of a sacred grove is something common to early religions in cultures around the world but sometimes a place is sacred for what it means to the person who lives there. This is the case for a peculiar 16th century garden known as Il Parco dei Mostri di Bomarzo. This Monster Park is composed of the sculptural work of Pier Francesco Orsini (1528-1588) and built near the Orsini Castle near Bomarzo, in the province of Viterbo.

The park, hidden in the middle of a woods, showcases gigantic, moss-covered mannerist sculptures (sometimes carved out of living rock) which are inspired from such literary works as Orlando Furioso (Ariosto) and Virgil’s Aeneid. Meant to astound and take the viewer’s imagination for a ride, its mix of mythological and fantastic characters was created in honor of S_Monster-Park-WomanOrsini’s beloved wife, Giulia Farnese when she passed away. The Bettini family then lovingly restored the sacred grove during the 1970s.

The world “rediscovered” this magical place after the painter Salvator DalĂ­ visited it in 1948. Many others followed and so can you…with a little determination. First take the train to the Attigliano-Bomarzo station and then walk, by foot, 10 kilometers uphill along a highway and then down. Even though the park is open all year, you should call beforehand: (39) (0)761924029.


Photos courtesy of Melissa Sandoval. Many thanks!!

by Alejandra Fabris

— Contributed by Alejandra Fabris, writer, American University of Rome Senior, Italian Notebook Editorial Intern.

7 Responses to “Il Parco dei Mostri di Bomarzo”

  1. Sharon

    Buon Giorno,
    When I taught for DODDS in Italy, I took my gifted students on many a fabulous Italian adventure (aka field trip). (Most of these were with the help of Michael Karris, whom I believe worked at the American U of Rome at one point. Alejandra – could you assist in connecting us again?) A favorite for the kids was Bomarzo – hands down! A fascinating surprise – one of ever so many in Bella Italia.

  2. Michele

    would love to go. it states you walk ten kilometers, but is that a mistake??

  3. Evanne

    Sorry, Alejandra…It’s impossible to walk to the “park” from Attigliano, and sadly, there is no public transportation. So save a visit for some time when you have a car, and perhaps drive on to Villa Lante, a real park on the way to Viterbo afterward. We admit kids are fascinated.We wrote about the park in 2009 in I N, in a story called, “There be monsters”.

  4. Gian Banchero

    I like the fact that the park is remote and hard to get to, we’ve all seen what has happened when a beautiful spot becomes a tourist destination. There is a “Magic Holy Water” well in Piemonte, a well with water that is reputed to cure all that troubles, from aches and pains to love-sick hearts, it was only after I had lived in the area for a year and was deemed trustworthy that I was brought to the “Aqua Santa” to fetch a jug of the water. Upon asking why the well was a secret the constant reply was that if it was discovered by the outside world then the “big boys” would make a commecial enterprise out of it and then the surrounding populace would then have to pay for the precious liquid which is presently free for the taking. There are still many, many secrets in Italy… “Acqua in bocca” is the attitude about them!!! I do agree!!!

  5. I had heard of this park and didn’t realize how close to Perugia it was! Fascinating. Thanks for showing it to us!

  6. Mary Galeani

    How wonderful! We visited “I Mostri” a couple years back on trip to find relatives in Bolsena. What a magical place this is!

  7. Victoria Arrowood

    I added this beautiful place to my bucket list.just to sit there and look at all the beauty and love put into this land.


Leave a Reply