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or lower Nymphaeum

The Grotto, inspired by descriptions of classical nymphaea, is one of the most mysterious and intriguing aspects of the Villa but it is also the point where the flow of water ended and, in keeping with the symbolic reading of the Villa’s design, its lowest point, alluding to the illusion of the senses and human, existential ‘wandering’. 

Externally, the entrance to the grotto takes on the shape of a large anthropomorphic mouth appearing between the two flights of stairs descending under the terrace of the fishpond, while the interior has an irregular, vaguely octagonal plan, enlarged by dark caves. Its appearance and decorative aspects recall the grotesque character that is also a feature of the gargoyle-like masks, an example of which can also be seen in the Grotto itself. At the center of this hypogeum is an eight-sided plinth standing under a large rustic column, once decorated with mossy stones, tuffs, corals, shells, mother of pearls, quartz, traces of which are still clearly visible.

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