Day Trip From Rome: Bomarzo Garden, or Monster Park in Italy


Bomarzo garden, or Sacro Bosco (Sacred Woods), is a famous monster park in Italy called Parco dei Mostri. It’s located in the small town of Bomarzo in the Lazio region, less than 2 hours drive from Rome. The park is a hidden gem of Italy, ready to open its secrets to everyone who dares to meet the 16th century stone monsters.

History of the Monster park

In 1552, Prince Pier Francesco Orsini (1523-1583) commissioned the Bomarzo garden. However, it was only finished in 1580.

The park architect was Pirro Ligorio, who also worked on Villa d’Este in Tivoli and St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and Simone Moschino designed the sculptures. Pier Francesco Orsini went against the idea of classical 16th-century gardens with symmetric geometry, extensive terraces, and lots of fountains. Instead, the garden looks like an untouched forest where one can get lost.

Historians still don’t know why Orsini built his garden in such a weird manner and its hidden meaning. Some say the Bomarzo garden was the expression of Pier Francesco Orsini’s personality. After spending some years as a prisoner of war in Germany and losing his close friend on the battlefield, he felt depressed. Also, Orsini lost his wife, Guilia Farnese (1527-1557), shortly after his military career. The Temple of Eternity, located on the hill, was dedicated to her. Note, she was not the famous Guilia Farnese (1474-1524), the mistress of Pope Alexander VI, but her distant relative.

After the death of Pier Francesco Orsini, the Sacro Bosco was abandoned and forgotten. Only in the mid 20th century Bettini family rediscovered the garden and renewed it in the 1970s. It’s still a privately owned park that welcomes thousands of visitors every year.

One of the most famous visitors to the monster park in Italy was Salvador Dali. The surreal creature of Bomarzo garden became an inspiration for his painting The Temptation of Saint Anthony. Also, poet Andre Pieyre de Mandiargues wrote an essay devoted to Bomarzo, and the artist Niki de Sant Phalle inspired by Bomarzo and created the Tarot Garden in Tuscany.

How to visit

To see the Italian monsters, you can book the tickets in advance. It is not compulsory to make a reservation, but it’s highly recommended. Unfortunately, the online booking system is only in Italian, so I made a step-by-step instruction for those who struggle with the language (see below). The entrance fee is 11 euro for adults, 8 euros for children from 4 to 13 years old, and free for younger children. Please note that it’s not easy and convenient to walk around the monster park with a stroller.

Orcus mouth monster sculpture “Ogni Pensiero Vola”

You will get the map at the entrance so that you won’t get lost. You can also download the map. The park is not so big, and it will only take you 1,5-2 hours to see everything. Make sure to take a picture inside the most famous monster of Bomarzo garden, the Orcus mouth. “Ogni Pensiero Vola” (Every thought leaves) is written on this sculpture.

How to book the tickets

To book your tickets to the monster park, go to the official website and click “”PRENOTA LA TUA VISITA”.

Step one: choose “Biglietteria,” which means “Ticket office.” Then click AVANTI. Please note that it’s unnecessary to call them if you want to cancel your reservation or change the number of people. They guarantee that everyone will be allowed to enter, even without a reservation.

First step booking tickets click Prenota la tua visita

Step two: choose the date and time of your visit.

Second step choose the date and time of the visit

Step three: choose the number of visitors for each category. Then click AVANTI.

Step three choose the number of tickets for each category

Step four: check all the details of your order and click AVANTI.

Step four the summery of reservation

Step five: insert personal details of one of the visitors. Nome – name, Cognome – surname, phone number, and your email. Then click AVANTI.

Step five insert personal details

Step six: payment. At that moment, you can only pay at the cashier right before your visit.

Step six pay on arrival

That’s it! You’ll receive all the details of your order by email.

How to get to Bomarzo

Distance from Rome: 93 km ~ 57 mile
Car: 1.5-2 hours
Train and bus: ~ 2 hours (depending on the timetable)
Open hours: every day, 9.00 am – 6.00 pm, may vary depending on the year’s time.
Address: Località Giardino, 01020 Bomarzo VT

By car

Bomarzo is just an hour and a half drive from Rome. This is one of those few occasions when I do recommend renting a car in Rome. Take the A1/E35 for the faster drive and pay 5,40 euro. Or choose the regional road SR2 (Strada Regionale), free of charge, to go slower and explore small cities.

By train and bus

If you can’t or don’t want to drive, expect the journey to be more challenging but also exciting! No train goes from Rome to Bomarzo directly. So take a train to Orte (Orte Scalo) and then take the Cotral bus from Orte (Orte Scalo) to Bomarzo. Plan everything before the trip as the bus doesn’t go frequently. Check the timetable and buy the train tickets on and check the bus’s timetable on

Unfortunately, you cannot purchase the bus tickets online, but you can do so from the official resellers or right on board. Ask them at tabaccheria Benincampi (Piazza Navona, 75, 00186 Roma RM) or around the Termini Station. See the full list of the official resellers. If you buy in advance, the one-way ticket from Orte Scalo to Bomarzo should cost 2.20 euro. But if you buy on board, the ticket costs 7 euro.

In conclusion, if you have one extra day in Rome and want to spend it outside the city closer to nature, I would recommend visiting this famous monster park in Italy. Make sure it’s a weekday to avoid crowds and enjoy the Bomarzo garden. It’s also a great opportunity to explore the countryside of Lazio because the region has to offer much more than just Rome.

Jana J.
Italy Travel Expert
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