The music of spectacular fountains, two small twin buildings with exquisite frescoes, a peperino rock table for outdoor dining, flowers, and lemon trees, contribute to a unique display of power and splendour of a sophisticated cardinal who aspired to become Pope.

At the end of the 15th century Cardinal Raffaele Riario turned this area into his hunting ground. About one century later, in 1573, the recently-appointed Bishop of Viterbo Cardinal Francesco Gambara decided to convert the land into a spectacular garden with water features. Traditionally attributed to hydraulics-expert Tommaso Ghinucci from Siena, the water features are structured in a sequence of terraces going down from the top of the hill in a dynamic pattern of sprays and small cascades, leading the water to a calmer parterre d’eau below: along the main axis there is a series of fountains named Fontana del Diluvio, Fontana dei Delfini, Fontana dei Fiumi, Fontana della Cavea, plus the sculpted stairway cascade, the Cardinal’s dining area and four fishponds. Here, among the skilfully designed boxwood flowerbeds, at the centre of an island bordered with balustrades we find the elegant “Quattro Mori” (four moors) a sculptural group in local peperino rock, that when wet glistens as if it were bronze. On top of the sculpture is the Montalto crest, belonging to Cardinal Alessandro who in 1590 had taken possession of the villa and had commissioned this work, together with a second pavilion matching the pre-existing one built by order of Gambara. The formal garden with boxwood and yew hedges, flowering rhododendrons, hydrangeas and camelias, examples of ancient Platanus orientalis, is surrounded by an oak, maple, hornbeam, bay and holm oak tree wood. Granted by Pope Alexander VII to Duke Ippolito Lante della Rovere in 1656, Villa Lante remained in the family’s possession until 1953 and in 1970 it was bought by the Italian State.