Orcus sculpture in the Gardens of Bomarzo
Park of the Monsters

'Park of the Monsters,' Bomarzo, Italy

Join us for a pre-Halloween trip to a small Italian town about 60 miles northwest of Rome. We're taking you to Bomarzo, where a once-forgotten 16th-century garden holds monstrous sculptures that are meant to evoke anything but pleasure. In our photo, the mouth of Orcus, a Roman god of the underworld and punisher of broken oaths, gives visitors the feeling of being swallowed into the abyss. During a visit to the Parco dei Mostri (Park of the Monsters), as it's known, you'll come across other grotesque sights such as a dragon being attacked by lions, a giant shredding a man, and Hannibal's elephant snatching a Roman soldier. Nearly 500 years after their creation, the grotesque figures still conjure up a visceral horror, perhaps as they were always meant to do. They were commissioned by Bomarzo's Duke Vicino Orsini in the 16th century to cope with the grief of his wife's death.