I’ve always thought there is way too less fantasy into our daily life.
I personally fight this tremendous lack living into my own dreamworld and enjoying any experience which could trigger my imagination.
For example lately I’ve been visiting two fascinating parks in central Italy: the Bomarzo Monsters Park near Viterbo (Lazio) and the Tarot Garden near Capalbio (Tuscany).
(they actually are very close to each others -about 100 km- but they belong to two different Regions of Italy: Lazio and Tuscany).
Walking around (and inside!) those marvelous statues feels like strolling into Wanderland!
So… let’s forget about real life and have a fun walk together into two beautiful Italian artistic parks.
This 16th century park with monster-shaped statues is still the private Villa of Wonders of Orsini family. The map you’ll get together with the entrance ticket totally sucks, but that’s part of the fun ’cause in this way you will surely get lost among these 24 gigantic monsters in peperino (volcanic tuff)!
This Manieristic monumental complex is made of mysterious statues, caves and buildings scattered all over a wild forest (which is called Holy Wood) and it has been such a fun to wander around this astonishing park looking for them. My favorite one is the slanted house, which gives you a drunken feeling when you enter it!
Among the Bomarzo Monsters park’s admirers there are Jean Cocteau and Salvador Dalì, while the story behind Bomarzo and the life of Pier Francesco Orsini are the subject of both a novel and an opera piece by the Argentinian writer Manuel Mujica Láinez; also, the park has been the location for several movies.
After the monsters park, you should visit the actual village of Bomarzo, which I found equally fascinating. Bomarzo is a medieval village of 1500 inhabitants hanging down a rocky mountain in the lower valley of the river Tiber, characterized by charming stone houses and beautiful narrow alleys. You can take the so called “urban elevator” and reach the highest part of the village, which is also the prettier, or you can admire the breath-taking view above the surrounding valley.
If you don’t mind to drive a bit longer (anyway less than one hour) you can also reach the village of Nepi, which is not only the place where the popular Acqua di Nepi is bottled and then sold throughout Italy, but also a beautiful village with an ancient aqueduct, catacombs, a Borgia Castle and a well preserved historic centre. Nepi is really off-the-beaten path, even Romans still confuse it with the most popular Nemi, and they are still not very familiar with this small village near Viterbo.
The Tarot Garden is a sculpture garden based on the esoteric tarots created by the French artist Niki de Saint Phalle in Garavicchio, near Capalbio (Southern Tuscany). I visited the park for the very first time right after its opening in 1998 and I loved it so much I’ve always meant to come back!
I eventually came back this year on Easter Monday and -maybe because it was a holiday- I found the park way more crowded than I reminded; it has been very hard to snap a few photos without strangers in them! (but even if a bit over-crowded the Tarot Garden is still worth a visit!).
Halfway between Art and Architecture, the Tarot Garden is a magic break from Real Life, a fantasy world where Men, Art and Nature blend together.
The Garden’s sculptures are covered with mirrors and ceramic mosaic and you can also enter some of them and dream about how amazing would be to live in such a colorful house: in that case, I’m sure my daily life would no more lack fantasy!
I combined the tour of the Tarot Garden with a visit to the beautiful medieval hamlet of Pitigliano, well-known for its tuff caves, its local wine (Bianco di Pitigliano, a DOC white wine) and its charming atmosphere.
Pitigliano has been inhabited from the Etruscan times, in 1293 the country passed to the Orsini family (the same of Bomarzo Park!) and in 1455 it became a county under the suzerainty of Siena.
The view of the town raising on a cliff is very striking, especially at night when the large outcrop of tufa is surrounded by fog and the medieval town seems suspended, as in a fairy-tale.
Here I’ve also indulged in some shopping as I couldn’t resist a handicraft shop where I found bags, earrings and many other accessories made from creative recycling and recovering of inner tubes of different vehicles (and I couldn’t help buying a bag made with former bike tires).
If you decide to spend the night in Pitigliano, you should book a room at the beautiful farm country inn Relais Ilune, nestled into the hillside of the Tuscan Maremma.
The place is simple but elegant, beautiful and homey; its best feature is the natural and tasty food, as you can see from this picture of our breakfast! :)
Are you ready to let a bit of fantasy into your daily life?
Now you know where to go!
And now… it’s your turn!
Did you visit similar parks in some other corner of our (magic) world?
Let me know in the comments area below!