I once trekked (literally) to the medieval town of Bomarzo located near Viterbo, north of Rome; to visit the eerie Park of Monsters, also known as the Sacred Woods.
As I mentioned, it was a damn trek and a half… but, once we got to the ghostly quiet town of Bomarzo, we literally walked down a steep hill to find the park. This place is truly off the beaten path! (Note: we took public transport – but I suggest driving there; more about that below).
Why go all this way? Well, what intrigued us about the park was the colossal sculptures made out of the boulders on the property, in addition to the story for the creation of this odd park.
According to local legend, in the late 1500’s Prince Vicino Orsini commissioned the park to represent the pain he felt for the loss of his wife. Artists were instructed to sculpt the designs out of the boulders on the property. It is believed the designs were to reflect his insane state of mind over the death of his wife.
The sculptures, scattered throughout the woods, include a monster, dragon, mermaid, sphinx, giant turtle, whale, Pegasus, Neptune, giant wrestlers, crooked house and the Ogre’s Mouth of Hell. Sculpted inside the head, was a table and bench seating. It’s eyes allowed the light into the crevice. Some say the echoes inside represent the confusion the Prince felt during his time of mourning.
The creations were truly enchanting – kids would definitely love to stroll through these woods of artistic treasures. Some legends claim Michelangelo designed the park, and the work was carried out by his students… but, who knows? Apparently, though, the park was a favorite of popular artists Jean Cocteau and Salvador Dalí.
For all you that want to follow our footsteps: Don’t go via public transportation. If you want to get to this park, I strongly suggest renting a car – especially if you’re taking the kids. For more information on this park visit http://www.sacrobosco.com/.
- Parco dei Mostri – Località Giardino, 01020 Bomarzo VT, Italy
NOTE: This is an updated version of an article originally posted in 2011 on a previous blog I ran called Modern Culture: Italy. The article was part of a series called Adventures in Rome. The blog no longer exists; however, I am pulling and updating some of the articles that I found to be interesting enough to have a life here on Magnusmade.com.