Bagnaia is a small town just a few kilometers from Rome, an ideal destination for those who would like to tour in Upper Lazio or Tuscia. It counts just over 5,000 inhabitants and has a historic part, very characteristic though not well maintained, bordered by walls encircled by the Clock Tower (photo 1).
The most important attraction of Bagnaia is Villa Lante (also known as Villa Gambara), built between the end of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th century. It arose mainly as Cardinal Ottaviano Riario’s hunting house. The property then passed to Cardinal Gambara, a cultured gentleman belonging to a noble family, who transformed the park into a villa as we know it today. Since 2014 it is a property of Italy that is now maintaining its conservation.
The Villa welcomes the visitor with the entrance portal (photo 2), then, on the left, there is the ticket office. The cost of the ticket, 5,00 euro, is more than affordable.
After passing the entrance, you will encounter the first of the fountains of the Park, the “Pegasus Fontain” (photo 3), which takes its name from the figure of winged horse (visible in the round) located in the center of the large oval tank. The bottom wall is occupied by female busties depicting the Muse, and four amorins throwing bubbles of water from the bottom of the tub.
After passing the “Pegasus Fountain” you enter in the most fascinating part of the whole visit, the Italian gardens (photo 4 and 5), made of inexhaustible paths made of geometrically concealed and very curved hedges. It is possible to walk through the entire garden several times to enjoy every corner of the view.
In the center of the Italian garden, the great “Fountain of the Mori” (photo 6), a Giambologna’s work, depicting four moons around two lions holding the heraldic mountain top, surmounted by the star-shaped fountain cast.
On the sides of the Italian garden there are two beautiful houses, the so-called “casine” (one of which is visible in the picture above). The ground floor, the only one to be normally visited, comes with beautiful frescoed walls, painted by local painters (photo 7).
Continuing to the upper part of the garden, passing a few staircases, you arrive at the “Cardinal’s Canteen” (photo 8), a long table made by peperino (a volcanic rock, typical of this area) used for large open air cocktails dinner. A simple and effective solution.
At the center of the long table is a narrow water tank that looks out to the Giant Fountain (photo 9), so called for the presence of two large figures lying in giants, personifications of the Arno and Tevere rivers, symbols of the Tuscia.
After passing the Giant Statue through a double ramp of stairs, immediately appears the splendid “Water Chain” or “Shrimp Cordonate” (photo 10), a junction between the “Giant Fountain”, just overtaken, and the overhanging “Dolphin Fountain”. It is a water chain used essentially as an architectural and decorative element.
At the end of the “Cordonate”, here is the just mentioned “Dolphin Fountain” (photo 11), named for the 16 dolphins arranged in pairs on the eight corners of the fountain. The fountain also includes water jets, that is splinters that can sprinkle from every point of the stand, wetting those who approach or sit on the nearby benches.
At the end of the journey, at the top of the Villa, the “Deluge Fountain” (photo 12), which marks the end of the vision, a sort of scenery flat of the entire garden. The water flowing from the rock walls represents the rain, symbolically the origin of all the fountains.
Two sides of the “Fountain of the Deluge” are framed by two small houses (photo 13), a work, probably, of Vignola. They are made up of open logs supported by Ionian columns and bear the name of Cardinal Gambara and its heraldic symbol, made up precisely of shrimp designs.
I suggest to arrive at Bagnaia very early, no later than 9:00 am / 9:30 am, also to be able to take advantage of the convenient parking, not far from the Villa, well visible to those coming from Rome.
The visit of the Villa, with its surrounding park, requires a convenient two hours / two and a half hours.
Villa Lante does not currently have its own official website. Some information can be found here. The houses (“casine”) can be visited on the ground floor. Guided tours are also organized from time to time for other plans by arranging an appointment with the Villa Management to be contacted by telephone.
My review for Villa Lante on Tripadvisor is available here.