The mad man bantered on for another 20 minutes as we all stood huddled underneath the portico of the romanesque Franciscan monastery. I zoned out 90% of his dialogue except for the the occasional outbursts of profanity---normally aimed at camper man's direction. After a while camper man decided it was a good idea to be quiet. Camper man's wife's face was in awe, completely captivated by everything the mad man was saying. He abruptly ended his discourse and the group followed him around the corner, deeper into the abyss. A row of hedges 2 stories tall made me feel as if we were locked inside of a labyrinth. Maybe he was the minotaur? Another left here, a pool there, down a corridor of bushes to a fountain. There he stopped to speak again.
I was now trying to fight my almost two year old to stay in his stroller-he kept poking his head out from behind the plastic cover and by this time his hair was completely wet-and my 6 year old was complaining he was bored and had to use the loo. There was no way I was asking the man for a bathroom. The man indicated 3 pathways behind him. "These three pathways are the pathways of our life, the first is religion, the second is free will , and the third is social class." Religion was a straight path to the end, free will was a straight but messy path---in the middle were several paths to choose from with a large fountain in the middle---and social class was a dead end. "These are the paths that we can choose from in this life" the man said. " Some are chosen for us and some we choose ourselves---some are of our fathers--and some we cannot escape." I was overcome with the profoundness that this tour had taken. This was true art--and even though it was pouring down rain, I began to enjoy myself.
Turning back the way we came---my son and I hurried down the middle path of "free will" to snap a few pictures. We then hurried back to the group. A few more right turns, and a left turn here and there until we arrived at a tunnel of trees and shrubs. Much like when we lie down to sleep---it was dark, a bit scary in places, a few times I wasn't sure what would be on the other side. I trusted the man to lead me through the tunnel. On the other side of the tunnel I beheld a large field with a dreamscape theatre in the middle. It was well...surreal. The dark tunnel had transported us into a dream...if only I could tell it to stop raining. I suppose it contributed to the ambiance. I've always loved going to the ballet and opera just for the sets---this was really a masterpiece.
We were in front of what seemed to be a Roman theatre, but then again it wasn't. There was something different about it. All of us were captivated by the scene in front of us. When he inherited the property he decided to create one of the many masterpieces of the late architect Tomasso Buzzi. Tomasso Buzzi used the space as his testing ground, where he could assemble and disassemble his creations. Two round structures rose from the back of the theatre. In between them was an artificial waterfall. In the center of the stage, the all seeing eye stared back at us. On the right side a city arose from behind the theatre---topped with the spire of a cathedral. We walked on, around the corner appeared a giant statue of the female figure---void of a head. "This is the portal to this world" as he pointed up to the female figure. Why does it always have to be a perfect in shape woman I though.
The gardens were truly a site to behold. The beautiful attention to every minute detail was out of this world. As we walked around the site of the theatre an entirely new site began to take form. A pond lie, like a moat, in front of the ideal city. We descended the staircases through the mouth of a whale---and then ascended the staircase through two rows of columns. We walked across the field over a small pathway which led to the city. We were able to enter some of the structures. Some of the rooms were so small that they seemed to be built for a mouse---but they were there---complete with staircases. As we made our way inside of the city we crossed through a circular structure with a dead tree in the middle. " This is the town clock". It was at that moment I realised we were in the middle of a giant sundial. " The tree has since died" the man uttered. We then proceeded deeper into the city. We had finally come to the center. In the middle lie a great cathedral---well it was about 2 stories tall---monumental if you were one of the mice living in the city next door. Inside of the cathedral a spiral staircase led to the steeple. " Jesus is one of the beings that made it through this challenge- He was one of the champions that understood the trick of the system. He came back to tell us that these beings want to bring us down here. As soon as we are dead, instead of accepting the tendency to walk horizontal, we should walk upwards. That is the only way out of this cage." Then another one of his braying laughs...as if he were telling us something insightful and life changing. We walked through the city one last time---around the backside of the structure and through the maze of bushes again---I turned back to have one last look at this surreal masterpiece, shots were still firing in the distance---but thankfully it had stopped raining. We thanked the man for the visit and exited the gates. My husband and the French family were having a little chat behind me--as we said goodbye and got back in the car I asked my husband what they had said. " They said they didn't understand much---but they were pretty sure that man was either crazy or a genius." "That makes two of us " I said as we drove off to find somewhere to eat lunch.
Who was Tomasso Buzzi?
Tomasso Buzzi a relatively unknown Italian architect of the surreal movement. Born in 1900 in Sondrio, Italy. He graduated from the Polytechnic Institute of Milan and began work on "Il Labrinto" along with other notable Italian architects of the time. He is most famous for his work on the villa Scarzuola---which was also his residence for a time. He died in Rapallo Italy in 1981. Is genius is only now beginning to become known to the world.
How can I visit this place?
To visit Villa Scarzuola you will need to rent a car. Visits can be booked either by email or by phone. Please note that visits are only in Italian and are a guided tour of at least 2 hours. There is an entrance fee. http://www.lascarzuola.com/la_scarzuola_30_03_2016_003.htm