Blog post by Gwen

Park of the Monsters – unknown and familiar and undeniably sensuous

Photo: Courtesy of In Fieri

About 50 miles northwest of Rome lies the Sacro Bosco (Sacred Grove in English) known as Park of the Monsters. Built in the mid-sixteenth century by Pier Francesco Orsini, the park is located at the bottom of a wooded valley beneath the castle of Orsini.

This is not your typical Renaissance pleasure garden. There are no wide terraces, well-groomed hedges or long vistas. Instead, the symmetry of a Renaissance garden has been replaced with short avenues, small buildings carved out of volcanic rock and giant fantastical sculptures of ogres, monsters, sirens, nymphs and gods, all situated in undisturbed vegetation. The asymmetry gives it a feeling of chaos and surprise.

The Park of the Monsters was the inspiration for the inaugural fragrance of the same name from the Los Angeles-based indie niche line In Fieri, founded in 2021 by Italian-born American perfumer Maria Teresa Venezia. On the In Fieri website, she says: “On Saturday, parents brought their children to the park. The park reminded us of a place we saw in a dream, an unknown but familiar place. We were greeted by Hannibal’s elephants and met Ceres. She was sitting on colossal fruits guarded by lions and bears. A tortoise was carrying a winged woman on its back.  We saw the monstrous Orcus with his mouth wide open and the ferocious Cerberus protecting the underworld. We run looking for a secure place. We met Pegasus, the winged horse, and rode him to the elusive sea, where Proteus was sailing a whale and Triton was listening to the sirens’ enchanting music in his golden palace at the bottom of the sea. We went to the leaning house and fell asleep.” Ms. Venezia enlisted perfumer Enrico Buccella to create the scent. And what a stunner it is, earning one of ten finalist spots for the 2022 Art and Olfaction Independent Award. I’m not surprised. Enrico Buccella is one of the most talented niche perfumers working today and one of the most underrated, and I couldn’t wait to smell Park of the Monsters.

It opens with a note of lily, so heady and rich it’s mesmerizing. It feels like I’m surrounded by bouquets and bouquets of them. The lily is so full, fleshy and indolic that, at first, I thought it was tuberose, instead, it’s something unknown to me and yet familiar. Green notes are here to add verdancy and brightness to the lily. I can’t pick out a specific green plant; rather, they suggest ferns, ivy and moss, that, combined with the lily create the impression of lush wild flora. Guaiac wood, smoky, woody, and a little sweet, is rich and adds depth and mystery to the fragrance. A note of incense, woody, smoky, resinous and sticky, highlights the floral and green top notes and keeps them in play. Spicy notes warm the fragrance, like sunshine on rocks. But what makes Park of the Monsters so stunning is the animalic musk that threads through it. It softens the lily, the greens and the woods and gives the composition a vintage feel that is undeniably sensuous. And as an extrait de parfum, it feels so luxurious on the skin.

The sirens in the Park of the Monsters are calling out to you, heed their call, and you will be rewarded with a modern masterpiece of niche perfumery.

Check out Park of the Monsters in our Shop.