Bomarzo, ItalyThe Parco dei mostri  (Monster Park) of Bomarzo, in northern Lazio, makes a great day trip from Rome.

The whimsical park is almost five hundred years old. In 1552, following the death of his wife, a grieving Prince Pier Francesco Orsini oversaw the construction of a park filled with sculptures of ogres, snakes, dragons and monsters, all carved from the boulders within the park. The creation of such a park, according to the prince, was “only to ease the heart.”

2013_October_Bomarzo2The creator of the park was the sculptor and landscape architect Pirro Ligorio, who also worked in the Vatican and is probably most famous for the spectacular Italian garden and water fountains he designed for the Renaissance Villa d’Este of Tivoli.

It’s a lot of fun to wander through the park to see the strange creatures covered in moss, seemingly emerging from the ground. Needless to say, it’s also a favorite for kids.

You can bring along a picnic lunch to enjoy during your outing.  After the park visit, you may wish to wander around the tiny hillside town of Bomarzo, perched up above the Monster Park.

Combine a trip to this interesting park with a visit to the stunning “dying city” of Civita di Bagnoregio , see my earlier post.

The park is open daily from 8 am to sunset. Adult tickets are 9 euro. Children 4-8 years old are  7 euro.2013_October_Bomarzo4