John Carter

Walking in the Etruscan Heartlands

John Carter
 Walking in the Etruscan Heartlands

Gardens & Lakes of the Etruscan Heartlands –  26 March – 3 April

For centuries Italy was run by a handful of rich and powerful families who knew the importance of making an impression on the rest of the world and each other.

Take, for example, the Farnese family whom I encountered in Caprarola, some 50 kilometres north west of Rome. In 1510, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese built an imposing villa there and, as he went on to become Pope Paul III, it must have worked. His grandson, who was also a Cardinal with the same name (to confuse historians) added some equally impressive gardens.

In nearby Bagnaia, however, a distant relative named Cardinal Gambara upped the stakes by building a massive hunting lodge and, in 1658, added magnificent water features to its already impressive gardens. “Anything you can do, I can do better” sums up that situation.

Just as I was despairing of this Renaissance folly, I went to the town of Bomarzo and the “Park of Monsters”, a 1552 creation of Pier Francesco Orsini (you guessed, they were the big shots in that area). He didn’t go in for topiary and clipped hedges or massive fountains and water features, but left his park as nature had created it, filling it with weird sculptures – monumental vases, an ogre, a dragon, dolphins and lions and such like.  His garden was simply for fun and told the world that he had no need to impress anyone.

Guess which one I enjoyed the most?

For further information about this holiday and any of the other leisurely walking and sightseeing holidays offered please telephone 01707 386700 or visit www.adagio.co.uk