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The Sacred Grove of Bomarzo

Part 9: The Tempietto

The philosophical journey through the sacred grove ends at a strangely constructed temple. This was built by Vicino as the culmination of his memorials to Giulia, and as a symbol of her constancy. We know this latter detail from a book published in 1556, Le Imagine del tempio della signaro Giovanna Aragona, by Giuseppe Betussi, in which Giulia Farnese Orsini is referred to as amongst the most virtuous ladies of Italy, on account of her constancy, having remained faithful to Vicino during the long periods when he was absent at war. Drawings by Giovanni Guerra show that the temple, now quite bare, was once adorned with a number of symbols including the zodiacal signs, crucifixion and resurrection scenes, and a sun that looked out from the east overlooking the Sacro Bosco. Solar light symbolises the revelation at the end of the philosophical journey through Vicino’s Sacro Bosco, the visitor emerging out of the wood, with its fantastical and cautionary bestiary, to the idea of divine love, emanating from the purity of Giulia, and embodied in the architecture of the Tempietto.

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