I found Bomarzo, a privately owned "garden of monsters," as it's called, in a narrow, wooded valley about a 20-minute drive from L'Ombricolo. From the parking lot it looked like a cheesy tourist attraction featuring monumental statues of dragons and sphinxes set among the trees, with no flowers to speak of. But once I ventured in, I realized something profoundly strange was going on in the woods at Bomarzo. Stone colossi wrestle to the death in the dell. An elephant pinions a Roman legionnaire in its trunk, and a precariously tilted house seems to totter at the edge of a terrace. >> Read more
Pictured: Villa Lante, created in the 16th century in Bagnaia near Rome, unites flawless geometry and fantastical water features and landscaping to tell the tale of mankinds taming of nature.