Bomarzo. History and Mistery
The Ancient Etruscan city
We are 1,5 miles west of the Tiber River, on top of one of those hundreds of peperino spur that characterizes the entire area, called Tuscia. Bomarzo stood in its advantageous location since Etruscan times. The most ancient ruins are dating back between the VIII-VII century B.C. with burial grounds, rocky villages, and mysterious monuments spread all around the plateaus with their still unknown stories. The Ancient Etruscan city became an important town in the IV century B.C thanks to its dominant position overlooking the Tiber valley. In the III century B.C. it was absorbed by the Romans and Polimartium, the City of Mars, fell into decay.
Bomarzo from Medieval Age to Renaissance
It was in the VI century, thanks to the local bishop S.Anselmo, that Polimartium rescued its important role. Between XIII and XV Bomarzo was divided into many properties, sharing and probably competing for the richness of the volcanic soil around the village.
At the beginning of the XVI century, the Orsini Family became the only owner. They climbed the greasy pole in the Roman papal court in XIII Century, with the first Pope and many cardinals. Their political power grew up with their lands, in Rome first and then North Latium. Giovanni Corrado Orsini called from Rome Baldassare Peruzzi to construct his palace in Bomarzo which would have to be completed by his second son Pierfrancesco, known as Vicino Orsini. Vicino has worked to finish the palace with the
loggia and the apartments where he has lived with his wife Giulia Farnese.
Bomarzo – The connections with the Pope and noble Roman Families
Vicino’s descendants kept the property until Mid XVII century when Ippolito Lante Della Rovere received Bomarzo and the large landed estate from Pope Urban VIII, who was intent on the construction of a new city wall in Rome on an area that rested on Lantes’ properties. Thanks to this exchange the new family completed the palace that was decorated by the painter Lorenzo Berrettini, with his vault representing the four Golden Ages, which owes so much to his uncle Pietro da Cortona. The Borghese Family should be even included in the list of Bomarzo’s owners, in the XIX cent, but the name of Bomarzo today is mentioned just for Vicino Orsini’s Sacred Wood.
Vicino Orsini’s Sacred Wood or Monsters’ park
At the foot of Bomarzo, almost 40 erratic volcanic Piperino blocks in 3 hectares of land were transformed by Vicino Orsini in 30 years to create an unusual garden for those times, a predecessor of many others in Italy (i.e. Niki De Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden) and in the world (Dalì’s park in Figueres). The actual tourist visit route through the park, created in the Fifties by the current owners, Bettini’s family, doesn’t probably help to understand the idea behind Vicino’s mind, that anyway is still a mystery. According to a legend, probably real, the stone figures were sculptured by Turkish prisoners. Anyway, the artists’ name who took part in these creations, Pirro Ligorio and Jacopo Barozzi from Vignola, are not given for sure. What does this park represent? An initiatory path to lose and discover yourself? A tribute to art and love, especially after Vicino’s wife’s loss? Or a park born from a brilliant and monstrous mind?
Bookshops and restaurant before the park and its lost secrets
The visit should start from the slanted house where every point of reference and balance is lost, then through Ogres, Nymphes, Bears, Dragoons, Elephants, Turtles, Gods, and Goddess. The visitor is pushed to get peace in the temple where Giulia Farnese rests. The visit, on the other hand, for logistical and touristic reasons winds through the bookshop and restaurant before landing you in the park and its secrets. However, it is enough to plan a visit far from the major tourist flows, without forgetting to visit the hamlet of Bomarzo, to which the sacred wood owes a lot.
The Etruscan pyramid. Necropolis and rocky villages
Around Bomarzo it is possible to find ruins of rocky villages and burials immersed in the wood. Thanks to the volcanic stone, men and women were able to shape their houses and cemeteries, since Stone Ages.
Less than 1,5 miles south of Bomarzo, through the wood, with some difficulty, it is possible to discover the Etruscan Pyramid, probably used for animal sacrifices since VII B.C. An alternative path can bring you to the S. Cecilia Necropolis with its medieval excavated houses and an XII-century church. The incredible surprises around Bomarzo aren’t finished here. On the same plateau, in Cagnemora valley, another archeological site stands with its mysteries, while almost 4 miles North of Bomarzo, Montecasoli Reserve
reminds an Etruscan village with a Roman columbarium. These rocky villages and tombs
are almost completely enveloped by the forest. Taking time is essential to discover Bomarzo behind his Ogres.