The Tarot Garden in Capalbio

The Torre della Tagliata, better known as Torre Puccini in Ansedonia
13 Agosto 2013


Finally, I have the opportunity to visit Niki de Saint Phalle’s garden.
I had always heard of it from my guests and my friends, but I always had only glimpsed at it from the road Aurelia, perched up there on the hillside among the bushes.
Well, on a sunny May afternoon I find myself in a parking lot in Garavicchio, a site located a few kilometers from Capalbio.
The parking is at the bottom of a valley and from here you still can’t see the statues. What you notice is a thick wall of gray tuff, impenetrable, which, as a theatrical backdrop, closes the sight at the show that we will find inside.
The park entrance through this massive wall is a large, circular, and almost perfect hole, giving access to the garden.
A few steps after the entry of the monumental statues there is still no trace of what I’m waiting to see, we are still at the base of a small hill and the woods are above us. So I start following, like everybody else, the path that goes up the hill and suddenly, after a few steps, in front of me appears overwhelmingly the garden.
 

Interior mirrors at the Tarot Garden (Photos M.De Carolis)

 
A set of very colorful statues, of sinuous forms, of  jets of water, of mechanisms, appears suddenly before me catching me in amazement. The statues are huge representations of the tarot cards, the Major Arcana, playing cards but also esoteric.
They fill my eyes. The strong light from the sunny afternoon outlines the sinuous contours of the Arcane and accentuates the shadows and the bright colors. The eyes are in raptures, misfits, astonished and never stop chasing the light that spark between the mirrors and colorful tiles that cover the statues.
In every place where your sight will rest, there is a detail, a particular, a clear reference to the circularity of life, love and death.
Every place, even the floor, is the place to find inscriptions and famous quotes of the artist.
From the initial space, all around a fountain, climbs a small path with all its twisted offshoots, running through the garden, but especially goes among the statues and in the statues. Often the inside of the constructions is open to the public, livable maze of colored columns and windows overlooking the garden. In small ravines are hidden smaller statues, but no less cured and significant. I can discover them only through the intense research that my eyes are doing between the color and the light, in the bright green of nature.
 

Sculptures at the Tarot Garden (Photo by M.De Carolis)

The little paths border on introspection, collected and quiet, while the larger ones are an explosion of colors, lights, metal, mirrors and ceramics but also of noisy mechanisms that the artist’s husband had applied to certain statues and especially the voices festive of children playing freely in the garden. All of this overwhelms you.
A deep sense of abstraction pervades me. Perhaps that heavy and waterproof wall at the entry wanted us to 'let it all out' before entering, to allow those who crossed it to be ready emotionally to enjoy her work.
The whole garden freezes time and thoughts, only the distant view of the Montalto's power plant tower reminds us where we are.
It 's definitely an oniric journey, fantastic, timeless in which life and death chase the auspices of life chasing the omens of death.
But nothing is sad, the joy of shapes, colors and light bring you back to an exciting dream-like
peace. Just an hour to get lost in the space of light. The benches you will find along the trail will
allow you to look a bit 'from the outside' at these wonders, without realizing that you are also an
integral part of it. At the exit, going through that wall, you will wake up from a dream.
It's a sublime experience to which we cannot remain indifferent, perhaps we will not remember well
the statues in all their shimmering details, but within us will always remain alive this deep oniric
experience.
The entrance fee is €12,00, not little, but the maintenance of this garden is really complex and
considering the fantastic experience, filled with astonishment and ecstasy, that you will enjoy, it is
well worth the cost.
We recommend a visit in a day of bright sunshine, every hour will have its light and shadows and
this constant change will allow to the garden to show all its brilliant facets.
Traduzione Rossana Ciocca