There are many romantic places in Italy and the area around Rome boasts historic villas and idyllic gardens. In fact, mankind has shaped land and water into monumental gardens, rich in symbolism and mystical meanings. Travel in the Renaissance and fall in love with the landscape: perfect harmony between man-made buildings and nature.
Trip in a nutshell
- Ideal for: history buffs, lovers of romantic places and honeymooners
- Highlights: frescos in Farnese palace and Villa d’Este in Tivoli (UNESCO world heritage site)
- What you will learn: history of the Renaissance and about the life of Prince Bomarzio and the Popes
- Local professional guide throughout your entire trip
- Length: 5 days, 4 nights
- Starts from Bagnaia and ends in Ninfa
- Transportation: self-drive or car and driver
- Accommodation and meals: family-run Agriturismo/hotels; typical meals at the farm or in traditional restaurants
- Price: starting from €2500 per person (based on a group of 4 people).
DESCRIPTION OF TOUR
The skill of the Renaissance gardeners created a unique style that can be recognized all over the world known as the ” Italian garden”.
In fact, during the Renaissance, the noble families concentrated around Rome and transformed their estates into villas and palaces of incredible beauty. For instance, water, stone, and plants create a wonderful interplay of color and perspective.
The elegant use of water, terracing, symmetry, and perspective fully represents the spirit of the Renaissance. That is, man wins over nature, God prevails over human temptations, and finally, the victory of reason over madness. For this reason, the plants in the Italian garden are evergreen, to symbolize that divine truth never changes.
Travel back in time and discover these romantic places in Italy!
DAY 1 Romantic places in Italy: the Villas
Villa Lante, Bagnaia
Out tour of romantic places in Italy begins with the perfect garden, considered by many to be the most beautiful Renaissance garden in Italy. At Villa Lante, Cardinal Gambara transformed a gentle slope into a series of three successive terraces, where the course of the water has a very strong link with symbolism. It is indeed a path of prayer immersed in beauty. Here rationality is enhanced by the axis that divides the villa into two perfectly mirrored halves and transforms the village of Bagnaia into a perspective scenery.
Ruspoli Palace, Vignanello
We will now head to Ruspoli Palace. This garden has never been tampered with since 1500, and this makes the place really unique. Generations of gardeners have carefully handed down the traditional techniques by propagating the same plants without ever planting new ones, and continuing to care for them with the same love. In fact, you will notice the complex initials of Ortensia Farnese in the interweaving of the plants, they have been maintained for 5 centuries!
Farnese Palace, Caprarola
Shortly before becoming Pope under the name of Paul III, Alessandro Farnese started a project in Caprarola to create an imposing military building. When he ascended to the papal throne, his nephew, Alessandro Farnese JR, continued the work, transforming the fortress into a palace of prestige. In fact, the building is entirely covered in mannerist frescoes. Connected to the two wings of the palace, the lower gardens offer a pleasant walk at the end of the visit. But only those who dare to enter the Barco, populated by immense fir trees, will finally reach the marvel of the high gardens. In fact chains of water, an exedra, and an elegant labyrinth complete the symbolic and programmatic picture of the palace as an exaltation of the Farnese family and the Church.
DAY 2 Heresy and modernity: The Sacred Wood of Bomarzo and the Serpara
Sacred Wood of Bomarzio
We will start the day with a one-of-a-kind garden and learn about a Prince. In fact, Vicino Orsini, Prince of Bomarzo, created this Sacred Wood to carve his heretical ideas in stone.
These were ideas that could have put his life at risk in the hostile atmosphere of the Counter-Reformation, so they were only revealed to through symbols. The monsters, the imposing and terrifying sculptures that populate the “Monster Park” have been forgotten for centuries. Finally, in the last 10 years, a group of passionate researchers brought this place back to its original state.
The Serpara, the sculpture garden of Paul Wiedmer
From the ancient to the modern, there are many ways in which artists over the centuries have combined art and nature. The Serpara is a sculpture garden created by Paul Wiedmer, a former collaborator of Niki de Saint-Phalle.
In fact, works of art blend perfectly into the landscape, creating an intriguing balance between art and nature. Both temporary and permanent installations among the trees and along the stream populate the garden, with works from about 30 artists from all over the world.
DAY 3 Towards Rome, the great Renaissance families: Villa d’Este and Villa Madama
Villa D’Este, Tivoli
Out tour of romantic places in Italy continues to this UNESCO-protected masterpiece: the gardens of Villa d’Este in Tivoli. Cardinal Ippolito d’Este transformed a bank of the hill to create parterres and terraces with intricate water features. Fountains and sculptures depicting mythological elements are meant to glorify the Cardinal’s family. Furthermore, strolling through the countless glorious fountains, you will be amazed by the beauty of the sculptures, the elegance of the labyrinths and topiary art, or the complexity of some of the mechanisms that still splash water at set times.
Villa Madama, Rome
Among the suburban villas, Madama Villa is that which still best expresses the splendor of Rome’s Renaissance nobility. It was designed by Raphael between 1516 and 1517 for Pope Leo X and was inspired by the ancient Roman villas. The names of the most important families have succeeded one another in this villa: from the Medici to the Farnese and Borboni to the American heiress Dorothy Caldwell-Taylor, Countess of Fasso. Today it is home to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and can be visited with special permission.
As you walk through Raphael’s loggia overlooking the formal garden you will be able to admire the grotesques everywhere. Finally, we will visit the magnificent Elephant Fountain that precedes the entrance to the loggia. The fountain is a reference to Leo X’s coronation to the Papal throne.
DAY 4 Southern Lazio: what is your favorite Roman Castle?
Aldobrandini Villa is one of the most beautiful historic villas of the Roman Castles, overlooking the town of Frascati and the countryside towards Rome.
The interior is rarely accessible, but it contains stunning paintings by Cavalier d’Arpino. The monumental hollow trees, including many exotic species and lush ivies, hide statues, and grotesque sculptures. Finally, you will admire the Water Theatre fountain, powered by an aqueduct that is over 8 km long and was built in 1600.
The Vatican villas of Gandolfo Castle are a small corner belonging to the Vatican City in the heart of the Roman Castles. For centuries the popes have chosen this village, which overlooks Lake Albano, as their summer residence.
In fact, the Apostolic Palace is the location where, for five hundred years, the popes wove the threads of world politics… during their holiday stays.
But the corner of pure paradise is the gardens of the Villas, those of Barberini Villa designed by Bernini. Within the elegant formality typical of Italian gardens, you can stroll along the long verdant pathways intended for the meditation of the popes.
DAY 5 The decadent charm of the English garden of Ninfa
We saved the best for last: Ninfa Gardens are the quintessential romantic place in Italy. In fact, this is a romantic English garden and it marks a clear distinction with the rigid formality of Italian gardens.
In the oasis of Ninfa, real and artificial ruins are submerged by apparently untamed vegetation. This is where roses, wisteria, and irises alternate in seasonal blooms, and the visit can change greatly depending on the month. Finally, we will walk through elegant little bridges, romantic ponds, lilies, and weeping willows.
The program in details
This is an approximate schedule, exact times will be finalized and they might change during the trip.
– Day 1: Romantic places in Italy: the Villas
- 9 am meet in Villa Lante and visit
- 11 transfers to Ruspoli palace
- 1 pm lunch
- 3,00 -6,00 pm visit Farnese Palace
- 6,30 pm check-in
- 7,30 pm dinner
– Day 2: Heresy and modernity: The Sacred Wood of Bomarzo and the Serpara
- 9,30 am depart from hotel to Bomarzo
- 10,30 am – 2.30 pm visit Bomarzo and lunch
- 2.30 – 4.00 pm arrive in Serpara and visit the gardens
- 5,30 pm back to the hotel
- 7,30 pm dinner
– Day 3: Towards Rome, the great Renaissance families: Villa d’Este and Villa Madama
- 8,30 am depart from hotel to Villa d’Este
- 10,30 am – 2.30 pm visit Villa D’Este and lunch
- 3,30 – 6.00 pm arrive in Villa Madama and visit
- 7,00 pm back to the hotel
- 7,30 pm dinner
– Day 4: Southern Lazio: what is your favorite Roman Castle?
- 8,30 am depart from hotel to Villa Aldobrandini
- 10,30 am – 2.30 pm visit Villa Aldobrandini and lunch
- 3,30 – 6.00 pm arrive in Gandolfo Castle and visit
- 7,00 pm back to the hotel
- 7,30 pm dinner
– Day 5: The decadent charm of the English garden of Ninfa
- 8,30 am depart from hotel to Ninfa Gardens
- 9,30 am – 1.30 pm visit Ninfa Gardens and lunch
- 3,30 pm end of the tour
- Accommodation and breakfast: 4 nights in agriturismo / B&B / hotels 3 or 4 stars (based on double room occupancy)
- 4 meals (lunch / dinner)
- All the experiences mentioned in the program
- A local professional guide throughout your trip
- Pre-trip support and assistance during your trip
Is not included, but can be arranged
- Transportation throughout the tour
- Any other destination/experience not specified in the program
What to bring – useful info
- Pack one nicer outfit for evenings out (optional 😉)
- 1 light jacket or wrap
- 1 pair of comfortable shoes
- Small daypack that’s comfortable to carry
- Sunglasses and sunscreen
- Finally, a water bottle