The Park of Monsters in Bomarzo, or Sacro Bosco, features fascinating statuary of mythical creatures.
In 1552, Giulia Farnese’s husband, Prince Pier Francesco Orsini, commissioned architect Pirro Ligorio to create a Villa of Wonders in homage to Giulia Farnese following her death. Ligorio is known for his work in completing Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City after Michelangelo died and creating the lavish Villa d’Este in Tivioli.
The Villa of Wonders was relatively unknown, however, until Giovanni Bettini bought and restored it in 1954. Today it’s a fun place to visit in northern Lazio, between Rome and Orvieto in Umbria, although still off the beaten track for most tourists.
Sculptures include mythological gods and characters, animals larger than life size, fantasy figures, and historical creations such as Hannibal’s elephant capturing a Roman soldier. There’s also a Temple of Eternity. Probably the image most associated with the Park of Monsters is the Orc or Orcus with its wide-open mouth allowing visitors to walk inside its head.
Visiting Bomarzo Monster Park
The Park of Monsters is just outside the picturesque medieval hill town of Bomarzo, about 100 kilometers north of Rome and 40 kilometers south of Orvieto. From Orte Scalo, the nearest train station, there’s bus service to Bomarzo, about 15 kilometers away. But the easiest way to arrive is by car. Viterbo, 21 kilometers away, is the closest city and is well worth a visit for its intact medieval center, the largest in Europe.
- See Bomarzo’s location on our Northern Lazio Map and Guide.
Between Bomarzo and Viterbo is the little town of Bagnaia, home to the beautiful Villa Lante garden, a must-see for garden lovers and one of my choices for top gardens to visit in Italy.
Within the park are a bar with sandwiches, restaurant, picnic area, children’s play area, and a book and souvenir shop. The Park of Monsters is open daily starting at 9:00, with shorter hours in winter. Check current hours and ticket prices on the Sacro Bosco website.
Places to Stay near Bomarzo
- La Casa del Sole is a bed and breakfast in Bomarzo, less than one kilometer from the park.
- Agriturismo Poggio degli Ulivi is in the countryside just outside of Bomarzo.
- In Viterbo, we stayed at Antica Dimora San Pelligrino, an apartment in a tower in the heart of Viterbo’s medieval center.
- In Bagnaia, Il Palazzetto is a B&B right by Villa Lante garden and 10 kilometers from Bomarzo Monster Park.
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