Saturday, 13 October 2012

Alto Lazio: Gardens 2

After our visit to Vignanello we moved on to Bomarzo where we went for a walk in the Sacro Bosco.  It was rather gloomy when we got there but it did not actually rain.  This was just as well as we finished with a picnic lunch.  The design of the Sacro Bosco is attributed to Pirro Ligori and the sculpures to Simone Moschino.  It was commissioned by Pier Francesco Orsini in memory of his wife, Guilia Farnese.  The garden reminded me of Stowe Landscape gardens in Buckinghamshire as its main feature was a lot of sculptures and a folly or two.  There is no real planning to the garden, just the statues spread around a wooded area on a steep hill so, needless to say, there were a lot of steep steps.  I think the gloom added to the atmosphere.

First up was this enormous statue of Good v Evil  which is situated at the bottom of the valley.  Nearby is this:

and no, it has not been tilted by an earthquake but is deliberately constructed at an angle.

As we climbed up the garden we came on several animal sculptures including Hannibal's elephants

and a lovely dog,

Probably the most famous sculpture is this one of Orcus.  Orcus was an Etruscan god who represents the 'wild man'.  The wild man features in many European festivals and folklore and is closely related to the Green Man that we often see represented in England.

I think a knowledge of mythology (which I don't have) helps when visiting this place.

The next garden was the Villa Lante in Bagnaia, near Viterbo.  This is a classical garden, again built on the side of a steep hill with lovely views overlooking the valley below.

As you can just see from the photo the bottom of the garden has a formal hedged garden.  The most important feature of this garden is a series of fountains and the water that feeds them which runs down the hillside.

This fountain depicts lanterns.  At the bottom there are two fountains with magnificent sculptures.

To the English eye, these gardens seem devoid of colour because there are almost no flowers, just a variety of trees.  On the final day we visited the Villa Farnese but I have no photos of this garden.  I have to admit that while I enjoy these gardens I really prefer architecture so the days we spent in towns with their churches and cathedrals were the highlight of the holiday for me.

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