The landscape of ravines, woodland, chestnut and beech forests, with huge boulders scattered here and there, inspired the Sacred Wood of Bomarzo’s fantastical and mysterious creations. Since antiquity, the best spots for hunting and fishing, volcanic lakes, and famous thermal sites attracted nobles and the upper echelons of the church; they came here for recreation, and for convivial gatherings at which they could hatch alliances for their ambitious political projects.

Powerful lords’ most important noble residences, belonging to the Farnese, Orsini, and Ruspoli Marescotti families and pre-eminent cardinals like Francesco Gambara, are all located within a few kilometres of one another. Successfully combining nature and artifice, their spectacular gardens would soon become a template for gardens everywhere, with awe-inspiring cascading water features and multiform fountains carved out of the characteristic local lava stone.

Palazzo Farnese in Caprarola with its gardens, Villa Lante in Bagnaia, and the lakeside charm of Bisentina Island are just some of the highlights of a corner of Italy in which gardening culture has deep roots. The loftiest expressions of Renaissance splendour, to this day they continue to inspire new and wondrous gardens. From the small remnants of the garden at Palazzo del Drago in Bolsena to Gian Lupo Osti’s collection of peonies and the “Cannara” garden created by a passionate amateur enthusiast, a host of little-known sites await discovery within the mosaic of the Tuscia district’s rich and varied landscape.

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