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Travelling to Rome with children? If youâ€™re staying more than just a couple of days, itâ€™s a good idea to do a day trip out of the city, as especially for children a week in the city may be tiring. As destination for a day trip, most people tend to choose Florence, Naples, Tivoli â€“ all beautiful and historically and artistically fascinating cities and well worth visiting. But if you have already seen them , or just want to do something different, try visiting the small town of Bomarzo near Viterbo, and its Park of Mosters! Bomarzo is just 1 hour train ride away from Rome, in the province of Viterbo â€“ in fact, you shouldnâ€™t miss Viterbo either, a beautiful and characteristic medieval town, with an original atmosphere of centuries ago!
What is the Park of Monsters of Bomarzo, then? It was constructed in the 16th century at the order of a prince of the noble and famous Orsini family, by Pirro Ligorio, the very same architect who finished off Saint Peterâ€™s Cathedral after Michelangeloâ€™s death. The prince had lost his beloved wife and felt the need to express his pain and loss: and you could say he did in quite a grandieuse way, by having the Park built in her honour! When it was first built, the park was named â€œVilla of Wondersâ€?.
The park contains more than 20 monuments and statues, most of them representing mythological creatures, most of which are very well preserved. Among them, you have the winged horse Pegasus; the goddess Venus; a â€œhanging houseâ€?, very unstable-looking as built on an inclined rock; an armed elephant like those with which the barbarian king Hannibal threatened the ancient Romans; a dragon engaged in a battle against some real animals; Cerberos, the three-headed quardian dog of the hell; the greatest Roman god Jupiter. Not only are the statues end building interesting to look at and fascinating with the stories behind them, but the place in itself is beautiful.
If you have the time, after seeing the Park and the town of Bomarzo, you should hop back on the train and go a little further to Viterbo: itâ€™s just another half hour away. The town dates back to more than 2500 years ago; in origin it was an Etruscan town named Surrena, which started to grow and develop in the middle ages and gained importance especially in the period when it offered a refuge to the Pope against the Emperor. Viterbo has preserved a variety of medieval monuments and museum tfor a visitor to see, and the town itself is a wonderful place to feel the touch of the history.