by Marcia Masino
There are some “must see” locations for the Tarot and Astrology enthusiast planning a trip to Italy. My suggested itinerary will take you to Florence, Milan and Bologna with a stop at Garavicchio in the Tuscan countryside to experience the world-famous Tarot sculpture garden. I’ve also included an excursion to the world’s most famous zodiac cathedral in the hills outside Florence in the “gotta go there” category along with a Tarot themed restaurant, museum and rare bookshop.
Italy is regarded as the birthplace of the Tarot. The first recognised Tarot decks were recorded between 1430 and 1450 in Milan, Ferrara and Bologna. The oldest surviving tarot cards are from the mid 15th century and painted for the Visconti-Sforza family, the rulers of Milan. Cards are documented in a written statement in the court records in Florence, in 1440 for the first known time.
Tuscany and The Tarot Garden
The Garden of Tarot is a sculpture garden based on the 22 Major Arcana cards created by the French artist Niki de Saint Phalle. Location – In the Italian village of Capalbio located in Garavicchio in the Maremma countryside Tuscany. St Phalle, along with love and collaborator Jean Tinguely designed and produced this architectural and archetypal masterpiece.
The sculptures and dwellings are huge, modern, recognizable, trippy, thoughtful and playful. They were made from soldered steel covered with cement then decorated with mosaics of ceramic, mirror and glass. The artist resided inside and worked on her sculpture garden for over twenty years.
St. Phalle stated that her Tarot garden was inspired by a dream she had about creating a sculpture garden. Motivated by faith and her love for humanity, she saw the garden as an “esoteric stroll “and viewed the cards as philosophical trials of self awareness and connection with the Universe. For St. Phalle her large than life Tarot constructions created a direct encounter with the archetypal world and it’s potential to heal and transform those who interact with it. It is truly a tour de Force and something the Tarot world has to celebrate from this incomparable Scorpio artist.
Address: Pescia Fiorentina, Capalbio (GR)Opening hours:1 April to 15 October from 2.30 to 7.30. Closed: Closed from 16 October to 31 March, one free Saturday per month in winter. Ticket Full euro 12,00, Reduced euro 7,00.
Florence – Il Tarrochi Restaurant
My favorite eatery in my neighborhood in Florence was, ironically, Il Tarocchi, or The Tarot. I received the first copy of the first Tarot book I wrote when I was living in Florence and we went there for a celebratory feast. The restaurant has Tarot card paintings on the walls above the booths and good pizzas. Very authentic and you’ll find close-by Gelaterias ( Gelato joints) too. I Tarocchi I tarocchivia dei Renai 12/14r.Florence 50125.
Hillsides of Florence- San Miniato al Monte
Known as the Medieval Astrological Church, with secret symbolism and mystical healing energy. The celebrated basilica was designed with underlying astrological context in 1018 – the 13th Century and is, some believe, dedicated to esoteric sun or solar healing. Think – The Sun Card and The Hierophant when you spend time there and of course the Three of Pentacles.
San Miniato’s relationship with the sun mysteries is profound and my advice is to visit with your head and your heart. The expected elements of arcane design are present in this space – the idea of the interplay of sunlight shafts that illuminate secret meaning within a sacred space through the use of occult symbolism only known to initiates, astrological characters, zodiac wheel and much more await your exploration. If you go with an open heart, you’ll feel the energy of the hermetic wisdom ensconced there and be touched by it.
One is greeted by a zodiac mosaic floor in the main entranceway of the church. A Latin inscription lies on the pavement nearby and when translated it states the time, date and names of the planets involved with a rare celestial event that the astrologically informed founders used for the date to set the mosaic onto the cathedral floor. It was a rare constellational astrological event of a new crescent Moon with the planets Venus, Mercury, Jupiter with Saturn hidden behind the Sun in the constellation of Taurus in May 1207. At sunrise in May the sunlight aligns with the Taurus sector on the zodiac pavement and illuminates it. For those who love an occult mystery this church is a must see.
Bologna – Tarot Book shop and museum. Museo Dei Tarocchi – Via Arturo Palmieri, 5 40047 RIOLA di Vergato, (Bologna) Italy.
Milan – Tarot Museum Milan, il Meneghello Via Fara 12, 20124 Milano, Italy. Italian Artist Osvaldo Menegazzi has art, decks, rare items, and more at his shop. By appointment.
Best times for travel – April, May, September and October, avoid the summer months if possible. Each of the locations are places to savour so allow ample time to really engage with the energy each offers. You may find significant memories, dreams and thoughts are evoked by these very special locations and a second inspired visit may end up on the agenda.
Good Journeys or Viaggio Sicuro!
Marcia Masino is a certified Grandmaster of tarot and author of the tarot classic Easy Tarot Guide. She has lectured at numerous tarot conferences and is a popular speaker for the Lily Dale Assembly workshop program. Her articles on metaphysical subjects have appeared in Fate and on the Web at http://mmasino.wixsite.com/tarotbooks. She lives in Pickering, Ontario, Canada.