If you are flying in or out of Rome there is a must-visit on your way – Tarot Garden. A magical place, where you see adults acting like kids in Disney land! A sculpture garden based on the esoteric cards was created by the French artist Niki de Saint Phalle (1930–2002), who saw this park as a way to cure pain and suffering through art.
Each structure in the park represents a mystical figure from the Tarot deck that takes visitors to an alternate reality, a “joyland”. Niki de Saint Phalle once said: it is a place “where you could have a new kind of life that would just be free.”
Many people say that Italy is “cure for the soul”, similarly, Tarot Garden is cure for your nerves. If you want to feel like a kid in an amusement park, forget your troubles and just admire fantasy art, wonderful and outrageous sculptures that you can climb, touch and explore – it is a perfect place. A wildly imaginative and non-typically Tuscan park: with contemporary art and not much plants.
Tarot Garden was inspired by Antoni Gaudí´s Parc Güell in Barcelona and Parco dei Mostri in Bomarzo. In 1979 Niki de Saint Phalle acquired land in Garavicchio, about 100 km north-west of Rome and brought there twenty-two monumental figures representing her idea of Tarot Mysteries.
Although she had works acquired by museums in the US, Israel and Europe, including the Centre Georges Pompidou, she considered the Tarot Garden to be her life’s work. In 1998 the park was opened to the public.
Tarot Garden is not that vast, but you would want to explore every work, since each one is unique. In the park you don’t need a guide, just like you don’t need a guide in Disney land, but if you are interested in the specific meaning of each sculpture and the connection with the mystery of the Tarot pack, we highly recommend buying a Tarot Garden book (available in the bookstore at the entrance/exit for 12-20 Euro), since in the park you won’t find any signs in English and rare explanations in Italian.
Remember that the park is only open April to October 15, so check whether you can visit the Tarot Garden, before you go.
Tip: The park doesn’t have a café inside, so better take water and some snacks with you.
Fact: Niki de Saint Phalle’s project involved many locals, who volunteered to help creating the park. Capalbio (municipality closest to Tarot Garden) residents suffered due to late arrival of their post, because their postman Ugo Celletti had been helping doing mosaics and discovered a passion for that work, so he sometimes forgot about his postal routine.