In the center of Italy, just above Rome, are two thought-provoking places that will help anyone with a creative block or capture the attention of someone who likes aesthetics.
La Scarzuola: An Architect's Dream
According to their website it was a convent founded by Saint Francis of Assisi in 1218 where he built a hut with a marsh plant called "scarza". Then in 1956, a Milan Architect bought and restored the convent. The architect, Tomaso Buzzi (1900-1981), “between 1958 and 1978, planned and erected his own ideal city… which includes as many as 7 theatres, culminates in the Acropolis, [and] a wealth of buildings [which] reveal a number of [views].”
The convent reminds you of Escher’s Day and Night (1937) and staircase prints. There are amusing contrasts: the sun and the moon, black and white, highs and lows, and straight edges and circle or curved structures. The tour doesn’t stop at the main structure, you go around the entire property where you can learn about each detail. I think it is interesting for anyone looking for something new, looking for ideas, or someone who appreciates artistry. The road to get there is off the beaten path but keep going and you’ll find the entrance at the end of the dirt road.
I liked this place because the tour guide was passionate about the property, and helped you understand where the artist was coming from, but left enough room for your imagination to find your own meaning.
There are guided tours all year long and I recommend booking ahead of time regardless of the size of the tour group. Rate: 10 euro per person in cash
Il Giardino dei Tarocchi | The Tarot Garden: A mini Park Güell in Italy
This is a place where you can spend a few hours! This garden sits on top of the Tuscan Hills and in the late 70s a French sculptress Niki Saint Phalle began working on the structures. In 1977, she started working with an assistant and bringing in other artists. The ceramic benches placed outside the garden, the iron and ceramic chairs inside the empress, and the decor of the ticket office are the work of Pierre Marie Lejeune.
Everything in the garden is strategically placed and made of mosaics; clearly inspired by Park Güell. Here is a list of some of the installations. They are colorful, captivating, and perfectly imperfect structures. As you walk around the park, you can see kids climbing the structures, and groups of people walking into the mosaic houses. There are also guided tours and audio/map in different languages. It is easily accessible and offers visitors a glimpse of the artist's view of the Tarot cards.
I loved my trip to Barcelona and especially walking around Park Güell. I enjoy and appreciate mosaics, to see this garden where they create something so intriguing with them, I knew I had to see it in person.
They have a ‘deal’: the first Saturday in the months of November to December and January to March, from 9am to 1pm, the park is free for everyone. If this Saturday falls on a public holiday, it will open the following Saturday. Rate: Adult: €12.00 | Student (with ID) and Over 65: €7.00 | Under 7 and Disabled: Free