The Scarzuola, at Montegabbione (province of Terni) is a truly unique place.
A bit of history
It was risen up a Franciscan place in 1218; infact Saint Francis of Assisi established here and built a hut made of “scarza”, a marsh plant that generated the place name.
At a later time, thanks also to the presence of water that made the place more easily habitable, the minor friars built a small church and then a convent.
It was sold to the noble family Misciattelli at the end of the 18th century and bought in 1956 by Tommaso Buzzi, architect, artist and designer who designed the current configuration of the place, unique and scenically spectacular.
The visit of the Scarzuola becomes a real initiatory path, surreal, suspended between history and esotericism, a place divided into theatrical scenes that find their culmination in the “Ideal city”.
Buzzi will not be able to see the completed work. Mr. Marco Solari, nephew of the architect Buzzi and current owner of the Scarzuola, will be the collector of his artistic legacy.
Mr. Marco, a truly singular character, is an integral and significant part of the visit and accompanies visitors on something that is much more than a simple guided tour, with many interesting stories, in a mix of philosophy and mysticism, art and esotericism, Luddism and conspiracy theories, always on the borderline between irony and lucid madness.
The result is a visit really out of the ordinary, which at the beginning can create some uncertainty but which in the end leaves a beautiful memory of itself.
Once past the entrance (photo 1), you come to a large garden overlooked by the austere Franciscan church (photo 2).
The actual visit of the place begins with the Fountain of Time, surrounded by “scarza” (the grass which gives its name to the “Scarzuola”) and guarded by the statue of a lion, symbol of strength (photo 3). In front of the fountain there are three half-hidden iron arches among the vegetation. It’s difficult to understand its meaning without the scrupulous and eccentric description of Mr. Marco. The three doors (or the three arches), in fact, symbolize the three paths of life: the left one leads you back to the convent and is therefore the path that leads to a spiritual life and of renunciation; the right one ends in a blind alley and represents the path that leads to material riches, i.e., to a path that leads to nothing in earthly life. The door at the center leads you to a fountain, that is to water and life, symbol of infinity: it is the path dedicated to love and to the discovery of oneself.
After this phase of the visit, you reach the magnificent and surrealist theater (photo 4), the most important point of the entire journey. The theater is full of dark meanings that Mr. Marco tries to decipher in great detail … and some licenses.
The stage of this theater wants to represent an enormous ship with obscure and symbolic representations of bees, suns, moons and, in the center of the proscenium, of a third eye.
The acropolis (photo 5) watches over this great ship with the representation, among others, of the Colosseum, the Temple of Vesta and the Parthenon.
Continuing along the path, we reach the “Time tower” (photo 6) and, later, the great “female sculpture with large breasts” (photo 7), the figurehead of the great theatrical ship.
On the sides of the large sculpture are represented, on the left (for those looking at the photo) closed books, on the right open books. The orientation of the sculpture is such that the large breasts shade only from the side of the open books; symbolically, therefore, the light of the sun opens the doors of knowledge.
Continuing the path we reach the “Mouth of the whale” by Giona (photo 8), symbol of death and rebirth, which is traversed through a long colonnade (photo 9), one of the cornerstones of the entire initiatory path imagined by Buzzi leading up to the Door of Love on which there is the inscription “Amor vincit omnia“.
Once you reach the top of the hill you come to the beautiful aquatic theater (photo 10) whose image is mirrored in the nearby pool, creating a truly striking image.
From the theater and the adjoining small temple we reach the Temple of Apollo in which the “Tower of Babel” (photo 11) attracts attention, enclosing a transparent pyramid.
How to visit
To visit the “Scarzuola” it is necessary to reserve by contacting the number telephone +39.0763/837463 or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost of the visit is 10 euros.
The officiale website is here (only in italian).
The visit is guided by Mr. Marco Solari, owner of the place, who leads the visitor on a very special journey. Mr. Solari is an atypical character but manages to make the visit something different. It is not necessary to listen to him but I suggest that you open your mind a little and follow it. After a start of possible embarrassment (and, perhaps, of annoyance. Mr. Marco has a really unlikely laugh), you will realize that following him is the right choice.
How to arrive
The “Scarzuola” is located in a rather isolated area. It is necessary to take the last stretch on a white road.
From Rome, from Florence or from Pescara, highway A1, exit Fabro. After passing Fabro Scalo, I suggest NOT to follow the directions of the navigator that leads to the SP 52, a little shorter but very bumpy and with a long stretch of white road. It’s better to disregard the indications of Google Maps and follow the signs for Montegabbione / Montegiove along the SP 58. The path is slightly longer but the stretch of white road is much smaller.
For my full review on Tripadvisor, click here.