THE MYSTICAL PATH OF MONTEGIOVE’S SCARZUOLA
Therefore the Scarzuola is first all, a pure-freedom zone, imbued with esoteric values and the personal architectural vision of its creator.
Nothing will ever be the same. Yes, because visiting the Scarzuola of Montegiove - a town in the municipality of Montegabbione (TERNI) - goes far beyond the traditional artistic or museum experience where the visitor passively waits for the guide’s explanation.
The mystical, yet profoundly pragmatic path inevitably leaves visitors subtly changed. The guests of this city-theater are, in fact, invited to bare it all (metaphorically), ask themselves questions (even the most uncomfortable ones) and abandon any prejudice. Only those who try to do it will be able to see the world and themselves with new eyes.
In a forest far from peering eyes, the 13th century Scarzuola rises. Saint Francis of Assisi (Francesco d’assisi) settled and built his so-called scarza hut in these woods before the monastery was constructed. Architect and interior designer Tomaso Buzzi named the structure after this marsh plant. After spending most of his life in the world of academia, in 1956 Buzzi decided to buy the land and make it his residence. He worked there for about 20 years to create his “ideal city”—the dream of a lifetime. He transformed this strip of Umbria into a unicum, giving free rein to his inspiration and his boundless creativity. Therefore the Scarzuola is first all, a pure-freedom zone, imbued with esoteric values and the personal architectural vision of its creator. The “ideal city” runs along a spiral path, descending behind the convent from the large amphitheater. It passes through seven theatrical sets, leading from
the order of the Franciscan building to architect Buzzi’s structure dominated by disorder and imagination. Yet there is nothing casual about it! The chaos is modulated by its internal harmony, saturated with musical allusions embraced by Buzzi himself, a violinist by avocation. After all, architecture is nothing but “solidified music,” said the architect, “because there is always music at the core of all.” The style is neo-mannerist. On one hand, it dips into classical architecture from the Parthenon to the Coliseum. On the other, it samples Renaissance models (Palladio, Serlio). It is highly symbolic and evocative, made up of interweaving stairs and building joints, disproportions and geometries, astronomical and literary references. In particular, the main reference is to the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, an allegorical novel from 1499 attributed to Francesco Colonna, which describes the erotic dream of the main character Polifilo, a metaphor for his inner transformation in striving towards platonic love. Similarly, the visit to the Scarzuola is a journey through the folds of the unconscious, a navigation that,
through a hermetic and surreal language, should lead the visitor to spiritual excellence and full self-awareness. The idea of the labyrinth reoccurs, suggesting the Masonic language and the incessant inner search, and in Buzzi’s cosmos it becomes the starting point of his initiatory-sapiential path. It is there, reproduced on the grass paving of the Amphitheater, under the gaze of a great Eye. But more generally it is the whole complex of buildings, connected by corridors and stairways, which constitute in themselves a sort of labyrinth, in which the beginning can become the end and vice versa. In this eternal flow, there are trials and obstacles to overcome whose goal is only one: the achievement of the perfect balance of vices and virtues, spirit and matter.
In 1981, the property passed to his nephew, Marco Solari, who carried out the project based on the inherited drawings. To this day, he also acts as Cicero to all those who choose to visit this place. Visits are by reservation. Tickets are 10 euro per person.