Surreal, esoteric & magical: The Ideal City and the Franciscan Monastery

Surrounded by woods and far away from the main road, La Scarzuola is one of those magic places hidden in the Umbrian countryside, the land that gave birth to many of the medieval saints.                                                                                                                                                                                               According to the legend it was here that San Francis, during his pilgrimages, built himself a hut using a marsh plant called Scarza. Later on a monastery  was erected  in 1218 , becoming very soon known as “La Scarzuola”.Scarzuola (3)Scarzuola

In 1956 the old convent complex, abandoned by the monks long before,  was bought and restored by an architect from Milan called Tomaso Buzzi (1900-1981) who, between 1958 and 1978, planned and erected next to the convent a sort of ideal city, envisaged as a theatrical machine. Inspired by the “Hypnerotomachia Poliphili” (1499), a famous romance written in 1499 by Francesco Colonna,  Buzzi’s city, which includes as many as 7 theatres, culminates in the Acropolis, a group of buildings consisting of a number of archetypes, empty inside and with as many cells one might find in a termites nest. A somewhat esoteric relationship was thus established between the convent (the holy city) and the theatrical workshops (the lay  city), both

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of them full of symbols and secrets, references and quotations. The use of stairs in all directions, the deliberate disproportion of some parts, a few gargoyles, the heaping together of buildings and monuments can be identified as neo-maneristic. The whole characterized by a surreal, labyrinthine, evocative, geometric, astronomical and magic nature.

In 1981 the property was Inherited by a descendant of Tommaso Buzzi, Marco Solari, who created  a new part using the projects and sketches left by the architect. “The part created by me, is not “Franciscan”- he says – of course, because it represents the world in general and in particular my World -in which I had the fortune to live and work – Art, Culture, Society Life, Elegance, of Pleasures (also Vices, Wealth, and Powers etc.) in which, however, I made room for an oasis of meditation, study, work, music and silence, social life and hermetic life, contemplation in solitude, Fables, Legends, Echoes and Reflections…”

The place it’s absolutely unique and it certainly deserves a visit.