At the height of the Renaissance, Cardinal Gambara commissioned an elegant garden to be built near Viterbo, inspired by designs of the gardens of his friends at Caprarola and Villa d’Este.
Cardinal Gambara liked to eat and to entertain. For him, the centerpiece of his garden consisted of a series of paths leading to an outdoor dining area with a fountain table of peperino stone, water coursing through its midst to keep the bottles of wine chilled, and along its base so you could cool your feet while dining during hot summer evenings.
Today, solemn stone structures and watercourses form an eerie reminder of his role as a member of the Inquisition in charge of heretical literature under Pope Pius IV. No surprise to hear that the garden’s design depicts the archetypal themes of man’s fall from grace and his redemption.
But what draws you in the most is the garden’s symmetry. Its geometry, with a series of elegantly maintained box, was inspired by the Belvedere at the Vatican, while its use of water was inspired by Villa d’Este. Here, water springs from a grotto at the top, landing at a water chain that forms one of the earliest examples of a water cascade, its pristine waters flowing from the nearby Cimino hills via an ancient aqueduct.
This final image, courtesy of Roberto Ferrari from Campogalliano (Modena), is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 License (cc-by-sa-2.0) Grazie!