I Giardini dei Tarocchi
The Tarot Gardens
58011 Pescia Fiorentina, Capalbio
Province of Grosseto
This past summer I introduced my granddaughters to the art of making mosaics. Ours were simple designs made with the broken pieces of ceramics that nearby building suppliers happily let us clear out of their lots. Ours were not fine, highly finished creations, but they were FUN! And we soon learned that the process of making mosaics is downright addictive.
So it was only right, that we make a family trip to Il Giardino dei Tarocchi in the neighboring region of Tuscany, where the French artist Niki de Saint Phalle devoted her limitless energies to creating a fantastical mosaic garden inspired by both Gaudi’s Parc Güell in Barcelona and the nearby Parco dei Mostri, or Monster Garden, in Bomarzo. Obsessed with the idea of designing a monumental sculpture park, she purchased a piece of land in 1979. About 100 kilometers north-west of Rome, set amid olive groves and farmland, the estate began to fill with massive figures representing her vision of the mysteries of the Tarot. It was to become her raison d’etre, a reflection of unleashed, manic artistic expression that spanned decades of her life.
The 22 figures were constructed of reinforced concrete, plastered, and finally covered with mirror shards and ceramic fragments. Large enough to be walked through and climbed over, they are a delight to every child who visits. In fact, during the many months of the garden’s construction., the artist took up residence in the Empress, a sphinx-like sculpture with shocking blue hair topped by a crown. Inside, the interior is covered in a dizzying arrangement of splintered mirrored tiles. It is so colossal a monument that her bedroom was located in the figure’s breast.
There is no doubt that making mosaics could possibly lead to madness (or the other way around). It certainly can distract one from his or her other duties, as in the case of the local postman, who early on was involved in the mosaic work, frequently forgetting to deliver the mail. The townsfolk were suspicious and quite alarmed by the growing presence of the whitish ghost-like figures in the garden, until their surfaces were covered in brilliant glass and ceramic pieces.
Niki de Saint Phalle, who suffered from mental illness, died in 2002. She left behind a dazzling monument to the art of mosaics and an enduring testament to the passion and tenacity of one artist and her dream. “How DID she do it?” we asked ourselves, over and over again. The answer is simply one tile at a time…
Opening Days and Hours
Opening dates: from April 1 to October 15
Open Daily from 14:30 to 19:30
Adult € 12.00
Student (with ID) € 7.00
Over 65 € 7.00
Under 7 Free