As a class, my entire abroad program visited Villa Lante with one of our landsape architecture professors from back at school who was in Italy for spring break. We toured the grounds and had a quick lecture outdoors in the gardens. Villa Lante is a "mannerist garden of surprise" in a small town about an hour north of Rome. Historians can't always agree about who designed the grounds but most attribute the design to Jacopo Barozzi di Vignola who was famous for his work with gravity fed fountains.
The grounds are organized in to three perfect squares that begin at the top of the hill and move downwards toward the Casini. Each garden becomes brighter and more open as they move down hill until the visitor is opened in to a vast formal garden drenched in sunlight. The experience was meant to represent Ovid's metamorphosis on the fall of man. I don't know enough about the mythology used for inspiration on the garden but I enjoyed them nonetheless and did a quick watercolor on site to try and show the darkness in the higher levels.