Italy, day 5: Tarot Garden

If life is a game of cards, we are born without knowing the rules, yet we must play our hand. Throughout the ages, poetry, philosophers, alchemists, artists have devoted themselves to discovering their meaning.

Niki de Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden (Il Giardino dei Tarocchi) is a collection of art build in a parc near Capalbio, in Tuscany. It was built from 1979 to 1993 and open to the public in 1998.

Niki’s inspirational works include Gaudi’s Parc Guell, Ferdinan Cheval’s Palais Ideal, Simo Rodia’s Watt Towers and the Park of the Monsters. Each scultpure is based on one of the 22 cards from the tarot game. The pieces are made of steel and concrete recovered with mozaique and mirrors. Some scultpures are statues of different sizes, and some others are so big that the visitor can walk through them – some even look habitable.

The garden is colorful, sometimes aquatic and fun to visit. Its isolated site makes the place very quiet and peaceful, allowing the visitor to fully immerse himself in the experience.

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The High Priestess represents the feminine intuition.

This feminine intuition is one of the “keys” of wisdom. She represents the irrational unconscious with all its potential. Those who wish to explain events by reason or logic alone remain on the surface of things without the depth of instinctual vision and imagination.

In front the High Priestess stands the Wheel of fortune.

The wheel of fortune is an age old symbol for the wheel of life. What goes up must come down.

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The moon is the card of creative imagination and negative illusion. The moon is an interior card – mysterious, enigmatic. The moon affects the tides of the seas, the menstruation of women, childbirth, and all things connected to the ebb and flow of water. The card of the moon can be perilous or offer great imaginative power.

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Temperance seemed to me to be a compromise. A middle road. Temperance is the right way.

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Some sculptures seem not to be linked to any Tarot card, although the overall assemblage is coherent. I love those two colorful snakey seats.

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Those ladies were bathing inside a much bigger piece – I don’t remember which one.

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Close-up of a rainbow-colored universe surrounding our solar system with its stars, sun and moon.

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This reminds me of Mexico. What do you think?

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Each piece is carefully decorated, every detail counts, down to tiny pearls decorating a mosaic tile.

The visit of the Tarot Garden was an enjoyable experience. The tree-lined path offers enough shade from the Italian sun and the thousands pieces of mirror reflecting the light gives a magical feeling to it.

If you ever go to Tuscany, take a day and go see this Garden, it’s a real treat for both kids and adults!

Disclaimer: content displayed between quotes are property of Nikki de Saint Phalle originating from her website.

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