On the last day of our journey north with Kate, we headed to the medieval city of Viterbo. On the way we stopped at the hilltop village of Bomarzo to see Parco dei Mostri, the Park of the Monsters. What a great late celebration of Halloween, eh? Although I’d never heard of the Park of the Monsters, the sign at the entrance proclaimed it to be world famous. It should be—it’s so unusual, atmospheric, and interesting—but the Monday that we were there, it was overcast and gloomy and as quiet as it could be.
Pier Francesco Orsini, a mercenary and a patron of the arts, was devoted to his wife and when she died, he created the gardens—sometime in the mid-1500s—in her honor. I’m not sure whether she’d be flattered or horrified, because although many of the enormous (monstrous) sculptures are quite beautiful, others appear downright scary (in sort of a goofy way)! For example, one enormous giant rips another in two (not so goofy), an elephant carries the dead body of a Roman legionnaire, and a cartoon-like dragon has his mouth open to eat a small creature.
The day we were there, the weather was overcast and it rained briefly a couple of times. The resulting mist added to the mystery of the fantastical creatures—bright green moss everywhere, making everything look hairy and well aged. Even if the sculptures hadn’t been fun and thrilling, the walk through the garden—I’d say a mile or so—was relaxing and pleasant.
Although the garden included mostly gargantuan sculptures, it also included a house that leaned to one side. We went up the steps and into the top floor, and I wasn’t sure I’d get back out. I was so dizzy and almost nauseated by the steeply sloping floor that it was difficult to put one foot in front of the other!
I can’t choose a favorite sculpture because I loved so many, so I’ll let you find one yourself. I’m telling you one thing, however, if you’re in the Viterbo-Bomarzo area, don’t miss this wondrous place. Viva Parco dei Mostri, e grazie Pier Francesco Orsini!