Presenting us with the prospect of a mysterious journey, the labyrinth is an allegory, a metaphor, a game in which we lose our bearings in a natural context where our senses become confused. A common motif in Roman and Medieval floor mosaics, during the Renaissance labyrinths became a regular garden feature. The message of labyrinth architectural patterns is channelled via ever-more complex and elaborated patterns, increasing the sense of disorientation. With their entrances, meandering paths and symbols, labyrinths disclose ideals and myths, while also integrating with the rest of the garden space: often the labyrinth is the destination of the garden as a whole, sometimes it appears as a reference inside smaller gardens, other times the labyrinth is the garden itself.
Labyrinths disclose a variety of complex and rich landscapes that can be created with different plants, boxwood, yew, laurel, and hornbeam hedges being the most common. But labyrinths can also be made of stone, like in Donnafugata, where the walls were once covered with climbing roses.
Labyrinths fell out of fashion when the landscape garden trend started to spread, but have made a comeback with the revival of Italian formal gardens and are still incorporated today in original creations such as the Labirinto della Masone and the Borges Labyrinth on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice.