Villa Lante, in Bagnaia, in the province of Viterbo, makes you think man wanted to prove his superiority to nature by using nature itself.
“In gardening”, Hermann Hesse once wrote, “there is something similar to the conceit and pleasure of creation: you can fashion a piece of earth as you wish, in the summer you can obtain the fruits, colors and scents that you prefer. You can transform a small flowerbed, a couple of square meters of bare earth, into a sea of color, a delight for the eyes, a corner of paradise.”
Its 22 hectares make Villa Lante one of the most famous Italian gardens in the world, to the point that the bushes’ extraordinary, geometric patterns overshadow the architecture.
Built in the second half of the 1500s just outside a forest, the villa was designed for Cardinal Gianfrancesco Gambara by Jacopo Barozzi from Vignola, with the help of a true genius of hydraulic architecture, Tommaso Chiruchi. A stream runs through it, along the inclined ground of four terraces, and then dives and re-emerges in a long series of fountains – dedicated to the Deluge, Dolphins, the Chain, Giants, the Table, the Tealights… all the way to the square Moors’ Fountain.
So iff it’s true that man here has shown some conceit, we must admit he did so with kindness.