Caprarola, Villa Lante, and Bomarzo: The Cultural and Topographical Landscape of Sixteenth Century Alto Lazio

Presented November 13, 2016 at the Civita Institute's Benvenuti in Famiglia fundraising event


KIT COTY is a doctoral student at the University of Washington where she studies Renaissance Italian art.  In 2013 she argued her master’s thesis, “A Dream of Etruria: The Sacro Bosco of Bomarzo and the Alternate Antiquity of Alto Lazio,” which addressed both the Etruscan influences upon the Sacro Bosco and the park’s correlations with the topography and cultural geography of Alto Lazio.  Her current research concerns artificial garden grottoes in central Italy from the sixteenth through the seventeenth century, particularly their connections to local topography and the period's burgeoning field of natural history.  Kit received the Civita Institute’s first University of Washington Rome Center Alumni fellowship in 2011.

This lecture will address three of the most celebrated gardens of the late Italian Renaissance: Villa Farnese in Caprarola, Villa Lante in Bagnaia, and the Sacro Bosco in Bomarzo, all less than thirty miles from Civita di Bagnoregio.  These three sites—created by cardinals and noblemen connected through bonds of both family and friendship—have been the topic of copious scholarly discussion within art history and landscape architecture.  While each of the sites will be discussed in detail, it is the sum of their parts that proves the most compelling.  Kit Coty proposes that the gardens share an ideological linkage centered around their distinctive region, engaging in a certain imaginative dialogue with their surroundings, projecting a distinct sense of place and localized identity as tied to the antiquities, topography and history of Alto Lazio.

Learning Objective #1

Participants will learn about the largely overlooked historical and cultural landscape of Alto Lazio, offering up an ‘alternative’ window onto the Renaissance removed from the cultural epicenters of Rome and Florence.

Learning Objective #2

Participants will learn about a combination of art historical and landscape architectural methodologies in order to better explore the relationship between built environments and their surroundings.

Learning Objective #3

Participants will learn how to critically engage with historical evidence that is at times multivalent and/or evanescent, approaching the issue of ‘meaning’ as something far more flexible and complex than conventional symbolism.

Learning Objective #4

Participants will learn how to situate Civita di Bagnoregio within a larger topographical and historical context, drawing linkages between Renaissance interventions upon the region’s rough environs and our modern response to the selfsame landscape.