This is what Bagnaia is famous for and for good reason. The grounds of the villa are wonderful. Villa Lante is considered to be one of the best examples of Italian-style Renaissance gardens. It is built on a steep slope that has been terraced. The terraces are united with a series of unusual fountains and water features.
Here we see volutes joined together to transport the flow from the fountain of the dolphins to the Fountain of the Giants. The volutes design originates from and emulates the gills of a shrimp, the emblem of Cardinal Gambara who funded the whole project.
This is the link road between the Villa and the town square. If you look closely you can clearly see the tower at the end of the street.
The street has the usual tourist paraphernalia; postcard shops, ristorante and tacky souvenirs but the cobblestones and aged buildings add an air of authenticity that lingers long after you've bought your postcard.
After I had passed through the village and then decided to go and ask someone where Villa Lante was, I ended up in a convenient carpark adjacent to a bridge I had just crossed over before turning around. In the carpark is a guide to the town.
You only walk a couple of hundred metres and you cross a railway line that crosses the bridge on one side and disappears beneath the town on the other.
Immediately after that you turn left onto a flight of stairs and you're heading towards Villa Lante.
The fountains in the gardens are supposed to potentially play tricks on you by spraying water when you least expect it. This 16th century practical joke wasn't even a fizzer. In fact, there were more fountains not working than actually gushing water. The bonus is I got to take the reflective shot shown here.
It is disappointing nonetheless to have fountains as a feature and have many of them inoperational.
If you've been checking out my other pages you could be forgiven for thinking there's a similarity here.
Though Villa Lante is considered Vignola's masterpiece by many learned authorities he nonetheless has an equally famous work at nearby Bomarzo, the Sacro Bosco or garden of monsters.
The rounded robustness of the figures is something of a trademark.
This is the fountain located halfway down the hill and it is linked to the dolphin fountain by the volutes pictured elsewhere.
There's two ways to tell what day it is in Italy. If the piazza is packed in the village and there are stalls, it's market day. If it's just packed, it's Sunday.
It was on such a day then that I gazed upon Cardinal Ridolfi's castle gate (1541) and the unmissable tower above it. This standout piece is a reconstruction after Otto IV created mayhem with the original in 1220.
The thing I love about this is the marble figurehead of Pucciarela. Not so much the head but the reason why it's there. It's in commemoration of the siege of the Lasquenets. Said lady saved the town by hurling a stone from the tower that killed the Lasquenets commander. Not a woman to be taken lightly!
Another unusual feature is that the tower clocks have Italian and French time due to long ago links with France.
The church on the left (Chiesa di S. Giovanni Batista) dated from 1588 but was refurbished in the 18th century when the facade was added.
At the sides of the garden are two places of rest and just the ticket for that Sunday afternoon barbie (as we tend to say in Australia.) Though one was closed off I got into the other and managed to get a pic, even without my banned tripod, of the ceiling frescoes.
With 16 dolphins on the fountain, it's hardly surprising where it gets its name but it was originally called Fons Coralli and was enclosed by a kiosk with vines and creepers so its appearance today belies that of yesteryear.
The main reason tourists come to Bagnaia is the gardens of Villa Lante, begun in 1562 on the orders of Cardinal Gambara. Their high position overlooking the town adds to their attractiveness and makes them appear even larger than they are.
The classic patterns of a Renaissance garden are highlighted here with the recently fallen snow making the geometric shapes stand out.