At Scarzuola, Tomaso Buzzi set out to make a dream he’d had since his youth come true, planning a city inspired by the spirit of place – a former Franciscan convent – inspired by humanistic ideals about the harmonious composition of nature and culture: a city beyond history that is dense with history… a city inhabited by silence.

According to tradition, Saint Francis planted a laurel and a rose bush here, a combination that, together with cypresses, is found throughout this magical site. Saint Francis is also said to have built a hut out of “scarza”, a marsh grass used today to stuff chairs; later on, a church and a convent were built here for the Friars Minor, who remained here until the 18th century. In 1956, Tomaso Buzzi purchased the hill and all of its buildings. From 1958 until his death in 1978, he worked on his dream of creating an “ideal city”: a “city of memory” conceived as a theatrical machine, an autobiography in stone composed of buildings evoked, in which the theatre is the common thread, in various sizes and against a variety of natural and man-made backdrops. La Scarzuola is a compendium of the garden arts, a treatise on fantastical architecture, an initiatory path leading to self-knowledge. It is Buzzi’s “autobiography in stone… the refuge and petrification of rejected (architectural) ideas”: a series of unusual constructions with complex meanings, fairy-tale folliesevoking centuries of history. Similar to Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli, Scarzuola is a synthesis of memories, souvenirs and recollections of a life, an “oasis of recollection, study, work, music, silence, greatness and misery, social and reclusive life… a kingdom of fantasy, fable, myth, and echoes…” The “sacred city” of the convent has a counterpoint in a “profane city” made out of tuff rock. At the heart of Buzzi’s city is the Theatre of the World: surrounding a stage that facies in two directions, on the right-hand side is the scenic backdrop of the Acropolis, and on the left, the Theatre of the Beehive or Bees; a “third eye” emblazons the tuff rockface of the semicircular podium. Unfinished at Buzzi’s death, Scarzuolawas partially completed by his heir, Marco Solari, to designs that he left.


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gardens of the twentieth century

Architect, landscaper, scenographer, interior designer, designer, Tomaso Buzzi is one of the most interesting personalities on the 20th-century artistic scene.