Theme parks are the trend of the 21st century but what if you are told about a theme park that is monster styled and was made back in the 15th century? You heard right!
A pair of lions:
A pair of lions gripping a snarling dragon to death and a dangerously looking leaning house. Similarly, 30 more different mass sculptures of stone including hell mouth, a gaping Orcus and much more are located in the park usually named as Park of Monsters. The park is located in Bonzaro, Italy, around 50 miles in the North of Rome.
The park was created by Vicini Orsini in the 15th century. The question that arises in every mind is that what was the motivation to create such a monstrous park? Were there any monstrous powers behind it or it was deep-seated depression of Orsini? There is a whole lot of debate on the topic.
Pier Francesco “Vicino” Orsini was born in 1523. He was born to be an artist which made him the Duke of Bonzai. He was living a normal and privileged life until the mid-1500s when his life took a dark turn. Orsini was serving as a general in the Pope’s Army during the Italian Wars. He had to engage himself in the violent military campaigns. During a war in the town located near the border of Germany, his friend Orazio Farnese was killed and he was captured as a prisoner of war by Germans. He spent many years in the prison. During these years, he worked as a spy and gathered as much information as he can.
When Orsini was released from prison after several years, he came back to Bonzaro with a different mindset. He distanced himself from the traditional religion and converted into Epicureanism. It is a philosophy that devotes the man with general pleasures with the absence of sorrows and pain. He surrounded himself with the talented people like writers, artists, and other creative minded people.
He along with Renaissance Garden Designer Pirro Ligorio and Papal Architect started to lay out the plans for Sacro Bosco but soon, Orsini rejected the traditional customs that were popular that time. During that time, the art was limited to Heroic Gods, Restrained hedgerows, neat symmetry and ornate foundations. Orsini had more modern and turbulent vision.
Orsini started working on his own ideas. He left shrubs and native trees in place. He filled the park with the stone sculptures. Although stone sculptures are usually thought to be coming from the dreams while the sculptures made by Orsini were more from the nightmares. The sculptures made by him were completely deviating the random fashion of the era.
There exist different stories about the origin of the idea of Park in the mind of Orsini. Some historians believe that Orsini was a believer classical literature. His work was very similar to that of Ludovico Ariosto, and Virgil Aeneid who used to depict intermingling combination of art and nature.
Other historians believe that Orsini was motivated to compete with Cardinal Cristoforo Madruzzo, his friend who owned a garden in a near town.
Some people also believe that Orsini made the garden to cope with the grief of the death of his wife. His wife, Giulia Farnese died soon after his release from the prison. It is debated that he loved his wife so much. He made the octagonal temple in the park to cope with the grief of his loving wife.
There is a number of inscriptions on the sculptures of the park that have different meanings. Each of them has their own narrative message. The inscriptions on the sculptures had their own intended meanings as written by Orsini. Melinda Schlitt, an art professor recently told to BBC in an interview “[This poetry] urges the visitor not to search for resemblance to other ‘marvels’ outside of the garden itself.”