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The story starts with a young nobleman named Duke Pierfrancesco "Vicino" Orsini. Orsini was born around 1516 and married a noblewoman named Guilia Farnese in 1544. He worked as a military officer and diplomat until 1553 when he was captured in the same battle that killed his best friend. He was held for ransom for three years and then, shortly after his release, his beloved wife died. Depressed, Orsini retreated to his family's holdings near Bomarzo where he began to plan his strange, melancholy garden. What is known of the garden is mostly just what historians have found by visiting it. Orsini left no records telling what his intentions were in creating the peculiar grove filled with macabre statuary.