Last updated on 11 July 11
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Villa Lante

  4.6/5 (8 ratings)

Gardenvisit Editorial

In the eyes of many, this is the consummate example of the best period in the history of garden design: the Mannerist phase of the Italian renaissance. It was designed for Cardinal Gambara, who had a modern taste for outdoor living and eating al fresco. The buildings are treated as garden ornaments, illustrating a good principle, and the overall design is attributed to Vignola. It uses the Palladian circle and square. Every aspect of the garden is perfectly proportioned and richly detailed: a square terrace subdivided into smaller squares, a water parterre, a wonderful fountain in a central position. Design ideas are drawn from earlier projects. The geometry was inspired by the Belvedere at the Vatican; the use of water by the Villa d'Este; the circular island echos Hadrian's 'marine theatre' a Tivoli and the isolette at the Boboli. There is an echo too from the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut: terraces command views down a sloping hillside. A grotto sits at the summit of the hill, from which flows water which is full of delight. It does not follow the central axis. Symbolically, the garden represents the tale of humanity's descent from the Golden Age (based on Ovid's Metamorphosis). It has a Grotto of the Deluge. Paths lead to an outdoor dining area with a fountain table, and then to other enclosures. The Water Chain is the best and earliest example of a stepping cascade. The Villa also has a park, now in some disrepair, which had the character of a hunting park but is too small for a hunt.
Address - Bagnaia, nr Viterbo, Lazio, Italy
Opening times - All year, Daily (except Mondays and public holidays)
Admission - Entrance fee
Website - Visit the Villa Lante website

Designers and Influences

This garden has been designed and influenced by Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola

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Reviews and Comments

Have you visited this garden?

  • almost 3 years ago Anonymous said

    Fantastic! Well worth a visit.

  • over 5 years ago Anonymous said

    when i was there, the photo policy was that you couldn't take photos of the fresco s inside the building.

  • over 5 years ago Anonymous said

    I was there in July 2007, and took loads of photos, but was asked not to use a tripod.

  • almost 6 years ago Steve said

    I visited on Sunday, June 15, 2008 and did not encounter a 'no photography' policy. I found the staff to be very very friendly in spite of the fact I was chasing around three children who were running and shouting and treating the garden like a jungle gym.

    There is, however, a 'no dogs allowed' policy that is strictly enforced. Our barboncino had to give this garden and all of its delightful things to pee on a miss.

  • almost 6 years ago Tom said

    Anyone wishing to visit this gem should be aware that there is a new, strictly enforced, 'no photography' policy.

    It seems to be applied only to those who speak English, whereas the dozens of italian schoolchildren who were photographing there were not scolded or threatened with expulsion, as I or other groups of English speakers were.

    Go figure...

    This definitely 'cast a shadow' on our long planned visit.


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