There’s no question that the Tuscan landscape is highly inspiring. The region’s natural beauties are irresistable to capture in photography or paint. The landscape also lends itself well to enhancement by art. Sculpture gardens or art parks are some of my favourite places, combining two things I love: art and nature. I’ve visited most of the art parks in Tuscany and have made a list here, roughly from South to North, hoping to see a few more this year.
Southern Tuscany – Art parks in Maremma
The Tarot Garden by Niki de Saint Phalle
Located on the southernmost border of Tuscany, with Lazio at a spitting distance, this park is nothing you’d normally associated with the words “sculpture garden”. It’s more like an international island in remote Maremma, where a French artist had a Gaudi attack. Massive sculptures that you can walk on and into are made entirely in mosaic! My husband and I’s first major date was a trip to this park on June 3, 2000, and I’ve written about it here. For this reason, of course, it remains an extremely special place for us.
Visitor Information: Open daily in summer only, www.giardinodeitarocchi.it
Arte e Parte by Piero Bonacina
In Maremma near Castel del Piano, near the town of Montegiovi is a private garden by a Milanese artist, Piero Bonacina, who “drifted” down to Maremma and stayed. His works are of a completely different type than the colourful Niki works, which contrast with the green area around them. But the Maremma is understated, rustic and rampant, and so is this art, that blends in perfectly with it. Here’s a longer post about this garden and its creator.
Visitor Information: private garden open by appointment, call +39 0564 969602.
Daniel Spoerri sculpture garden
On the hills of the Amiata mountain, in a rather remote part of Maremma, there’s a large sculpture park by the Swiss artist Daniel Spoerri. The vast area includes woods as well as open fields, and is home to 108 sculptures, over 40 of which are by Spoerri, and the others selected by him for this space. I’ve written about spending a day at Daniel Spoerri’s garden here.
Visitor information: Giardino di Daniel Spoerri, Seggiano (GR), Open daily 11am to sundown:
The Giardino di Ritorno by Rodolfo Lacquaniti
Further up in Maremma, near where we have a home in Sticciano, is the garden of an eccentric architect who decided to dedicate himself to creating sculpture on his property out of found materials. Rodolfo Lacquaniti has become a friend over the last few years after I met and interviewed him for the Tuscany Region’s art blog back in 2010 (here). Recently he has seen greater critical recognition thanks to his creating an impressive installation at Vintage Selection in Florence. Rodolfo is a talker, and if you let him take you around his property, he’ll tell you about how each piece was conceived and what it means to him. The works are part of a story that is continuously being built.
Visitor Information: private garden and home, open only upon reservation by phone at +39 335/5247472 or email Rodolfo at [email@example.com]. Visits cost 10 euros per person.
Paul Fuchs Garden of Sounds
I have yet to visit this art park in Maremma – the last on my list! Paul Fuchs is a Bavarian sound artist who has exhibited his work all over the world, but fell in love with the countryside around Boccheggiano. Around his villa, his creations can be properly heard in the silence of this countryside location. Read more about this on Elisa’s Maremma-Tuscany blog.
Sculpture gardens closer to Florence
Chianti sculpture park
I was very impressed with this park when I visited last year. The 1km path in the woods hosts international sculptures that dialogue well with the land, and there’s a free guide for iphone that has short texts about each piece. Read my longer post about this garden here.
Visitor Information: open daily from 10am to sundown, though if visiting in the winter months, reservation is recommended at +39 0577 357151. For information, see www.chiantisculpturepark.it.
Jean Paul Philippe is one of the first artists to develop landscape art in Tuscany since the 1980s. His Site Transitoire is located in the Crete Senesi and is free to visit if you can find it. Instructions in French here.
Castello di Ama
One rare art park I haven’t visited yet is Castello di Ama, mainly because it is first a winery, then a collection of contemporary art in the landscape. The works are by artists of international fame, from Michelangelo Pistoletto to Daniel Buren and even Louise Bourgeois.
Visitor Information: by reservation +39 0577/746069, www.castellodiama.com
Villa La Magia
This Medici villa was recently added to the UNESCO Heritage list and is now more frequently open. Its gardens host a permanent display of contemporary art since 2005 called “Genius Loci – The spirit of the place”, while the limonaia is used for temporary exhibitions.
Visitor Information: via Vecchia Fiorentina 63, Quarrata (PT). Open every Sunday from June through September, and every third Sunday from October to May. Tickets cost 2 euros, 8 euros with guided tour. Reservations at www.villalamagia.com
Mauro Staccioli: Origins
Although it’s not an art park in the strict sense of the word, the landscape art of Mauro Staccioli in the territory of Volterra is worth a mention. The works were donated in 2009 and became a permanent display of sculpture that frames the landscape in a most beautiful way. You can download a map to find the works here.
Northern Tuscany & Elba
Parco della Padula
8 contemporary works in Carrara marble at the edge of the city of Carrara by Robert Morris, Sol LeWitt, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Mario Merz and others. The works are part of the city’s Biennale of sculpture, and the park opened in 2002.
Visitor Information: via provinciale Gragnana, Carrara.
Italo Bolano Open air museum
On the island of Elba, an open air museum open summers only contains about 30 works and is privately run, since 1964!, by the sculptor Italo Bolano. Ceramics and the sea are the artist’s inspiration
Visitor Information: free entry, open Monday through Saturday in the summer, www.italobolano.com
This post is part of a monthly series of shared topics written about by art bloggers around the world called ArtSmart Travel. For April we’re writing about Spring, and art parks is what comes to mind for me on the topic of Spring! I’ve also already written about Spring in Tuscany in April 2013 for the Italy Blogging Roundtable! So I encourage you to take a look at what the other bloggers have written about for this topic.