Bomarzo is a small town in northern Lazio in Italy, famous for its park of stone monsters.
Take a regional bus from Viterbo railway station (check with the schedules). The bus route starts at the Riello /p.zza G.Bruno bus terminal, but the closest bus stop to the railway station is v.le Trieste /N.Sauro-Gorizia. A journey take about 1/2 hour. Alternatively the same bus but in the opposite direction could be caught at the Orte Scalo railway station.
Get off at the 1 via Cavour stop at a small roundabout at Bomarzo. Walk downhill 400 m northwards via to the historical centre of the village. At the tiny piazza Matteotti turn left a bit uphill into the village until you come to the back facade of the Palazzo Orsini next to a small parking lot.
From the Rome-Florence A1 Autostrada leave at Attigliano and follow signs to Bomarzo.
Park of the Monsters
- 1 Sacro Bosco (Parco dei Mostri di Bomarzo) (disregard a road sign at the entrance to the historic centre as there is a shortcut. Instead at the small parking lot next to the Palazzo Orsini take a pedestrian come-down. Descend downhill until you reach a small road which leads towards the park. For more detailed directions check with this Italian page). Apr-Aug 08:30-19:00; Sep-Mar 08:30-sunset. The Park of the Monsters is the main Bomarzo's attraction. It is also referred to as the Sacred Grove or Monsters' Grove. It contains many strange larger-than-life sculptures, sculpted in the large lumps of volcanic rock that littered the area. It was put together by Pier Francesco Orsini in the 1570s. The many monstrous statues have, in their time, entertained princes and princesses and provided inspiration for poets, novelists and painters, including Salvador Dali. There is even an opera called “Bomarzo”. Single €10, children (4 to 13 years) €8.
During the 19th century and into the 20th the garden became overgrown and neglected, but in the 1970s a program of restoration was carried out. The garden is today a major tourist attraction and is guaranteed to entertain children who may be getting a bit fed up with medieval hill towns.
Statues and fountains include Pegasus, Hannibal’s Elephants, an Orc, a dragon attacked by dogs, a turtle with a giant woman on its back, a two-tailed mermaid, a giant and Aphrodite, an ogre’s head as the “Mouth of Hell” and many more. There is also a strange little house which leans sharply to one side and is great fun to go inside. Carvings of acorns are all over the place, presumably a reference to the Della Rovere family that owned the local castle (Rovere meaning oak in Italian).
- 2 Palazzo Orsini. A big Renaissance palace dominates the old part of the village. It doesn't seem to be open to the public but it's worth a have a bit of a walk once you're there.
- 1 Riserva Naturale Monte Casoli di Bomarzo (Monte Casoli di Bomarzo Nature Reserve) (in about 5 km further on the road which passes Sacro Bosco). The area which is not only rich in nature but also history left numerous traces here. At the top of the Monte Casoli hill it is still possible to see cavernous dwellings (l'abitato rupestre di Monte Casoli a Bomarzo) which used to be inhabited since Neolithic time to the Middle Ages. Walking further along the CAI 125 you'd also find remains of the Etruscan and Roman altars cut from the rock and the ruins of an old abbey.
- 2 Piramide etrusca (Altare piramidale or Sasso del Predicatore) (approx. 1.5 km south-east from via Cavour bus stop). Yet another Etruscan altar in a form of pyramid with steps carved from a top of a rock. Along the path leading to the Piramide you'd also come through a notable passage cut through the rock.
The park has a souvenir shop.
There is a small restaurant attached to the park and a selection of restaurants in the nearby town.
There is a couple of hotels in the "newer" part of the village, some holiday houses for rent. There is also an agritourism establishment next to the park.
- Villa Lante - A villa with another Mannerist (while more traditional) garden
- Giardino dei Tarocchi – a far more modern sculpture garden, which was partly inspired by Sacro Bosco