The nymphaeum, sacred place of the nymphs, is dedicated to the god Pan. According to Greek mythology, the god Pan was a nonOlympian divine being who lived in the woods, half man and half animal, acknowledged as the god of shepherds, the wild and the countryside. A powerful and wild god, represented with the legs and horns of a goat, hooves instead of feet, a beard, a flat nose, and with the torso of a man. The nymphaeum is the oldest amongst the villas of Lucca, and was built between 1570 and 1580. A picturesque grotto, cool in the hotter months, it is an elaborate and refined standalone construction which was originally part of the garden of the Villa del Vescovo. After Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi’s purchase of the enclosure at Marlia, it was integrated into the gardens of Villa Reale. Its construction is believed to be attributable to Bernardo Buontalenti, or an architect influenced by him, for the particular use of filled and solid spaces, the geometric patterns with their rough and stony decoration, the striking placement of grotesque figures in the internal niches and the elegant design of the stucco and mosaics. The building is formed of two areas. One is an open quadrangle of two storeys, with large openings in the walls. The entrance archways are flanked by pillars with rustications of tufa. Throughout the entire construction, the use of different materials for decorative effect is used profusely: smooth stone, tufa, and black and white pebbles. The other area is closed, imitating a grotto, of circular construction, with small niches. The roof is domed, and the dark space, featuring limestone concretions, is illuminated by a single opening at the top of the arched ceiling. The walls of this second space are decorated with a combination of wall coverings in rough tufa, stalactites, geometric patterns and grotesque gargoyles. The statue of Pan and humanlike sea figures can be found within the niches.