Parco dei Mostri di Bomarzo (The Park of Monsters in Bomarzo)
In Bomarzo, a picturesque town near the foothills of Mount Cimino on the border of Lazio and Umbria, is the Park of Monsters. Known also as the Sacred Woods or the Villa of Wonders, the historic Italian monument has fascinated the likes of Dalì and Goethe.
Established in 1550, the park was the brainchild of the eccentric Prince Vicino Orsini and architect Pirro Ligorio. Nestled between olive trees, the park’s three hectares alternate exotic architecture, such as the famous Leaning House, with enigmatic sculptures representing figures of monsters, dragons, and mythological subjects.
Civita di Bagnoregio
Also known as “The Dying City”, Civita di Bagnoregio is a completely restored village perched mysteriously on a large volcanic rock known as tufo. The town is cut off from the rest of the world by a long, narrow bridge suspended above the valley below.
The area surrounding Civita di Bagnoregio is known as the “Valley of the Ravines”, an area possessing an extraordinarily fascinating landscape.
Palazzo Farnese of Caprarola
In the village of Caprarola, located a stone’s throw from the volcanic Lake Vico, is the imposing Palazzo Farnese. The pentagonal, moated fortress was designed in approximately 1550 by architect Antonio Sangallo for Alessandro Farnese, the nephew of Pope Paul III (aka Alessandro Farnese the Elder).
Inside the fortress you can discover several architectural and artistic treasures, such as the magnificent Scala Regia, a stairwell resting on 30 Doric-inspired columns. Also inside is the Hall of Fasti di Ercole, the Hall of Aurora, the Hall of the Globe, and the Room of Angels. The Room of Angels, also known as the Echo Room, is famous for its unique acoustic design resulting a particular sound effect. The Palazzo is surrounded by a beautiful Italian garden.
Near to Palazzo Farnese, those interested in nature can also visit Mount Soratte, Mount Terminillo, and the Monti Sabatini.
Just outside of the ancient city of Viterbo, on the road leading to Tuscania, you can find the famous sulfuric spring known as Bullicame. For locals, the waters are considered therapeutic and are frequently used as a treatment for diverse ailments. Bullicame’s unique qualities earned it a reference by the famous Italian poet Dante Alighieri in his 14th-century Inferno.
Palazzo Papale of Viterbo
The Palazzo Papale, or Papal Palace, is located in Piazza S. Lorenzo in the historic center of Viterbo. The Gothic-style palace was commissioned in 1257 by Pope Alexander IV in accordance with the temporary transfer of the Pontifical Curia from Rome to Viterbo.
The main feature of the Palazzo Papale is the enormous Conclave Hall that hosted the longest conclave (Papal Election) in history, lasting three years. Attached to the Palazzo is the Loggia of Blessings, a roofless and primarily ornamental arcade from which you can see the piazza and Porta Faul, one of the many ancient doors giving access to the historical center of the city.
Resting on top of an ancient volcanic rock, about 60 km/ 35 miles north of Rome, is the ancient town of Orte. Orte has stood the test of time thanks to its strategic geographic position overlooking the Tiber Valley, whose river connects to Rome, and its important highway and railway connections.
The town offers several beautiful sites, but is most well-known for its ancient underground tunnels covering much of the historic center and leading to the main piazza. Within the tunnels is a well-preserved underground fountain that was used to provide the people of Orte water during times of war.
The historic center is divided into seven districts that come together annually to celebrate Orte’s Patron Saint Egidio from the end of August until the second week of September. During this period there are historical reenactments, theatrical and musical performances, and medieval games. One such game is the Palio of Archers, where archers challenge each other in the main square with wooden weapons. This festival is known as the Eighth Medieval, and is an ancient tradition dating back to the 14th century.
During Easter, and specifically on Good Friday, Orte holds an evocative procession commemorating the death of Christ. This procession is almost certainly the oldest of its kind in Italy and certainly worth a visit.