Friday, 4 July 2014

Off the Well Beaten Track north of Rome - Viterbo and Villa Lante

Before a holiday, people ask where are you going? I'd left all the planning to a friend and didn't really know anything more than the fact we were flying to Rome and then taking public transport and having an adventure.
The first place we intended to go to was Ostia antica, but events conspired against that, so we headed north by train to Viterbo, capital of Tuscia, headed for the Hotel Tuscia recommended by Lonely Planet. It's well placed in the centre of the stunningly beautiful medieval part of the town, has good breakfasts, is quiet, friendly and very comfortable. Abiding memories of the whole holiday are of Jasmine flowering freely in hedges, around doorways and in pots, its perfume pervading the air.
The picture above shows it around the entrance to our favourite place to eat where the food was so good.
Villa Lante is a short bus ride away from Viterbo in Bagnaia, it has a magnificent garden dating back to the late 16th century, and there are many parallels between it and Villa d'Est in Tivoli which I'd like to visit again.
The highly structured gardens are green all year round because the main plants are box hedges and lawns, as a backdrop for the 5 magnificent fountains.
The garden is set on a slope, so more of the garden can be seen as you walk up into it. It starts outside the main garden with the fountain of Pegasus which takes its name from the figure of a winged horse in the centre. There are 4 winged cherubs in the water with it, and Muses on the wall behind spouting water.
 Once inside the garden, the first fountain is the one seen below which represents the triumph of the human mind over Nature and has 4 Moorish boys as the crowning glory in the centre of 4 ponds
Here's a view above that fountain:
And onto the next fountain made up of 70 small fountains:
This is fed by a long table with water in the middle and underneath:
And above that, Fountain of the Giants:

I'm including both photos, because they are slightly different. Feeding that fountain is another amazing structure:
 And below is the uppermost fountain called the fountain of dolphins
 Below is the grotto with springs feeding all 5 fountains
 Here's detail of a head
 And the Gamberini symbol or shrimp carved all over the garden, used because it was the surname of one of the first owners:
There are extensive splendid gardens around the formal garden, but I think that's enough to encourage you to go and visit.
 On the way down from Villa Lante, a typical gloriously sweet smelling doorway covered in flowering Jasmine

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