Parco Dei Mostri At Bomarzo Rome Day Trip | Stories by Soumya

Parco Dei Mostri At Bomarzo – A Day Trip From Rome

Last Updated on June 11, 2019 by Soumya

It is fascinating how some things can deeply affect you – enough to get you packing your bags. Monty Don’s tour of Italian Gardens was one such thing for me.

Monty Don’s series on Italian gardens had hugely impressed me. While touring the length and breadth of the country, he had touched upon a number of beautiful Renaissance gardens.

The gardens of Bomarzo were especially striking. We could not wait to discover them.

Interested to see something unusual in Rome? Try this different kind of Renaissance garden in Bomarzo, called the Parco dei Mostri. This park of monsters defies the order and symmetry of other contemporary gardens. It stands out of the landscape for its grotesque sculptures, yet blends back in seamlessly. #bomarzoitaly #italy #gardensofitaly #bomarzogardenmonsters #bomarzomonsterpark #italygarden

Come, let’s take a tour of the eccentric Parco dei Mostri in Bomarzo.

Bomarzo is a small town in the province of Viterbo located less than 2 hours away from Rome. Consequently, it makes for an easy day trip from Rome.

The main attraction of Bomarzo is its strange garden called the Bosco Sacro or the Sacred Grove. It is more popularly known as the Parco dei Mostri or the Monster’s Grove for reasons that we will explore below.

Bomarzo is not a very well-known destination. You will never find it in tourist itineraries.

However, what you will find here is beyond precious. Hidden deep inside the jungles, off the beaten path, Bomarzo’s Parco dei Mostri is weird and fascinating at the same time. A must-visit for anyone who seeks beyond the obvious!

At the Bomarzo Garden of Monsters | Stories by Soumya

About Parco dei Mostri

The garden was built in the late 16th century in a valley below the castle of Orsini that towers over the town of Bomarzo. The park is covered with lush green foliage and you won’t notice it from a distance. This keeps it hidden and away from prying eyes.

The park of monsters is so called because it is filled with grotesque and hideous statues of animals and fierce-looking human beings and monsters. The sculptures are scattered randomly all over the place defying any sense of harmony prevalent in typical Roman gardens of those times.

Statue of Neptune at Bomarzo | Stories by Soumya
Statue of a seated Neptune

History of the Garden of Monsters

The Garden of Monsters was commissioned by Prince Pier Francesco Orsini in 1552 to express his deep sorrow at the loss of his best friend at war. He also lost his beloved wife Giulia Farnese soon after and that drove him further to create this garden which would enchant and shock the world at the same time.

The garden was designed by architect Pirro Ligorio and the sculptures were created by Simone Moschino. The park was built in the Late Renaissance or Mannerist style even though it hardly possesses any resemblance to the art.

The typical Renaissance concepts of order and harmony are absent at Parco dei Mostri. Sculptures are woven naturally into the bedrock and the green mossy landscape so as to form an integral part of the scenery. There are no manicured hedges or lovely marble statues. The park shocks and wonders rather than pleasing any human senses.

The picnic cave at Parco dei Mostri in Bomarzo | Stories by Soumya
The mouth of the Orcus

A few notable structures

The Orcus mouth, pictured above is one of the most interesting sculptures present in Sacro Bosco. On top of it are inscribed the words, “All reason ends here”. The appearance of this cave is scary but once you step inside, you will notice a cozy picnic table around which the prince probably enjoyed lunch with his friends.

In the picture of Neptune above, take some time to look carefully under his right palm to find a dead dolphin.

Another impressive structure is the one representing a fight between giants. Here, the Roman hero Hercules is seen to be killing the fire-breathing giant, Cacus.

Also, notice below the leaning tower that forms part of the garden. Nobody knows why it was put up there. But it is enough to disorient even the most stable of travelers.

Interested in learning more about other leaning towers from around the world? Read our post on 14 leaning monuments, some well-known and some fairly offbeat.

All practical information for your visit to Parco dei Mostri


Tickets are priced at € 11 for adults and at € 8 for children between the ages of 4 – 13. Special rates are available for groups and school teams. You can check them out on the official website of Sacro Bosco.

Opening hours

The park is open every day between 8:30 am – 7:00 pm from April to August. From September – March, the opening hours are between 8:30 am – sunset.

How to get here?

Bomarzo is easily done as a day trip from Rome because of its proximity to the Italian capital (a little above 100 km). You can drive down from Viterbo as well (21 km).

We took public transport to get to Bomarzo. We took an early morning train from Roma San Pietro to Viterbo. Then we took a Cotral bus in the direction of Bomarzo from the Viale Trieste bus stop in Viterbo.

Be prepared to wait for some time to get into the right bus because it can take a while. Schedules are hard to come by. Once aboard, make sure to let the driver know that you wish to get to Sacro Bosco. He will drop you off at the closest point after which it is a downhill walk. Of course, you will have to walk uphill on your way back.

Interesting sculpture at Bomarzo | Stories by Soumya

The end of my trip

I had an interesting time at Parco dei Mostri in Bomarzo. It was a queer but a rewarding day trip from Rome. I had not expected to see anything so shocking and wonderful at the same. Yet, there was the Garden of Monsters in front of us, all set to enthrall with its monstrosity.

If you are looking for another offbeat day trip from Rome, do check out our tour of the Etruscan necropolises of Tarquinia.

I will leave you with this inspiring video by Monty Don so that you can pick an Italian garden of your choice for your next trip. The Park of Monsters features at 36 minutes of the video. You can also catch a glimpse of the gardens of Villa del Balbianello at Lake Como of the George Clooney fame. Many more interesting ones in there.

And while you are gorging on these beautiful gardens, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get regular updates on fascinating travel destinations from around the world.

YouTube video

Spending a few days in and around Rome? Check out our posts on

Must-do things in Rome
An ultimate travel guide to visiting the Colosseum
A self-guided walking tour of Rome
An interesting day trip to the necropolises of Tarquinia

And lots more on Italy!

Loved our post? Why not pin it?

Soumya is an acclaimed travel writer who has traveled to 30+ countries and lived in 8 while pursuing her passion for history and culture. Her writings have been published in BBC Travel, Architectural Digest, National Herald, and many more. She loves exploring world heritage sites and has a deep affinity for everything ancient, especially the lost civilizations of Mesoamerica!

24 thoughts on “Parco Dei Mostri At Bomarzo – A Day Trip From Rome

  1. Such beautiful photos of the Parco. I have always hesitated to go there because of how to easily get back to Rome again. Is is easy to catch a bus again back to Viterbo? Where did you buy tickets for the bus from Viterbo to the park and back again? Was it easy to find the bus stop in Viale Trieste in Viterbo?

    1. Hi Irene, sorry about the delay in response. Don’t know why this comment landed in my spam folder. Anyway, it is definitely not very easy to get to the Parco especially because of the unavailability of bus schedules. But buses do run from Viterbo, I believe, 4 times a day. We went to the bus stop pretty early in the morning, I remember, and waited for nearly an hour before the bus arrived. It is hard to find a timetable (you can still check on the Cotral bus website before going). But once you get onto a bus, you can buy your tickets on it. Our driver was especially helpful when we told him we wanted to get down at Sacro Bosco. He dropped us at the nearest spot after which we had to walk like 5 minutes downhill. Make sure you also ask your driver about when you can get a bus back to Viterbo or Orte. I remember we took a bus back to Orte instead of Viterbo and then a train from there. Hope this helps.

  2. Oh I love the thought to visit this place, I too loved Monty Don’s garden travel series in which he showed us some of the world’s most beautiful gardens. The Parco Dei Mostri / Monster Grove looks really fascinating and an easy distance from Rome. The photo of you in the Mouth of the Orcus is fabulous!

  3. I lack words to describe how awe-struck I am after reading about Parco-Dei-Mostri Bormazo. The giant structures of the monsters are extremely fascinating, each one telling a scary tale and transporting you to a world of some dark fantasy. A picnic table in the mouth of the Orcus sounds interesting. Neptune holding a dead dolphin, the elephant getting hold of a warrior, the leaning tower, the fight between Hercules and Cacus – all these sculptors indeed represent the prince’s state of mind. But they also are a great example of his fertile imagination. I can spend hours here watching these figures and imagining stories.

    1. That is so so true. Exactly what I felt at the Park of Monsters. Apart from being manifestations of his state of mind, these sculptures definitely represent his imagination and creativity. And hats off to that which created something so different that we can relish today.

  4. Wow, this looks amazing, and definitely a little bit of Asian style (I mean look at the elephant???) I wish I would find your post earlier so I could go there during my visit of Rome. It looks like also great place to visit for kids and families.

    1. I like you pointing out the Asian thing. That was my first thought when I first saw the elephant. Apparently, elephants came in as gifts from Asia and African colonies. So, it’s probably that. Could be something else. Would love to learn. It is definitely a great place for kids and families. Maybe next time.

  5. What a fun day trip! This looks incredible! We are planning a trip to Rome, so I’ve had my eye on good day trips. This one looks unique with the “monsters”, and I think our family would love it. Thank you!

    1. Yeah a very good destination for families. Calm, quiet, and different. Happy travels to all of you.

  6. Ok…. I didn’t know of this place and now I have to go here when I was in Rome. Time to book another ticket to Rome!
    This is truly shocking! Indeed its not the tourist radar! The sculptures are fascinating! Can’t believe they’ve from 15th C.
    Good to know that its possible to reach the place by public transport. We usually rely on it!

    1. We almost always use public transport too and it was nice to find that there were decent services between Rome and Bomarzo. This place is truly incredible.

  7. A truly fascinating destination I must say. Your post now influenced me to watch the BBC show which influenced you to visit the garden :). This is an absolute gem of a day trip from Rome. The statue of Neptune, mouth of Orcus , the precariously leaning tower are all spectacular.

    1. Sinjana, I am so glad that my post inspired you to go see this beautiful garden. The sculptures are spectacular indeed and so different.

  8. I love reading your posts as you always showcase some hidden gems with full of history and beauty. I never knew about Monty Don’s garden series in Italy, but interested to do this garden tour. The gardens of Bomarzo are really beautiful. It is good that Bomarzo can be easily done as a day trip from Rome.

    1. Thanks Yukti. You are so right. These gardens are so beautiful and their proximity to Rome makes them an attractive location.

  9. This is so timely, Soumya, because my college-age son will be visiting Viterbo Italy in July for study-abroad classes in art. He loves sculpture and mythology and will certainly be interested to know about the Park of Monsters/Parco Dei Mostri. It looks to be exactly the kind of place that will inspire his creativity. Thanks for brining this to our attention, and also for sharing the important tips about getting there and pricing. Much appreciated!

    1. Wow, Jackie. I am so excited for him. I am glad I could help in some way and do hope he loves this park.

  10. I love finding offbeat attractions near popular destinations. I hadn’t heard of this beautiful garden with the monsters before. I’m glad you told us that the inside of Orcus’ mouth was welcoming and not scary. What an amazing collection of statues of giants and monsters.

    1. Exactly what I felt after I had been to this garden. This place is full of monsters. Yet, it’s so amazing and full of character.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top