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The book describes the historical development of the 'little wood' as it was known, the garden commissioned by the nobleman Pierfrancesco Orsini. He was known as 'Vicino' (1523-1585) and devoted his whole life to the project. Orsini, a condottiere, poet and man of letters, who was culturally linked to the Farnese family, succeeded in raising his state of mind and transcribing his encyclopedic knowledge into an unusual, controversial project, full of obscure symbolism and cryptic allusions. The multiple meanings of the garden reflect the evasive temperament of its creator. Its historical context, symbolism, heraldic imagery, allusions to fairy-tales, obscure philosophy and astrological and astronomical associations, elements which reflect the universe of the man who commissioned the project, are examined in numerous essays gathered together in this volume. Here, finally, we learn the names of many of the people who played a part in Orsini's extraordinary enterprise. For the first time, the Sacred Wood is analyzed from the many points of view which define it, starting with a comparison with contemporary works and moving on to a scientific analysis of the botanical species which are (or were once) present in the park. Many of the illustrations appear here for the first time, some of them refer to recent archaeological discoveries but they all help to complete the story of the Sacred Wood, where sculptures and architectural creations were allowed to display all their evocative power.


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