THE MYS­TI­CAL PATH OF MONTEGIOVE’S SCARZUOLA

All About Italy (USA) - - Editorial - Beatrice Vec­chiarelli

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.

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