Anne's Blog

  • archictecture-on-architecture

La Scarzuola:  From St. Francis to Savador Dali

Date: June 10, 2011 - categories: , , - 1 Comment

A recent visit to La Scarzuola, in northern Umbria – where our region almost merges with Tuscany – plopped me right into a surreal world of Dali-Miro’-Escher-Fellini-like bizzarities. The name “Scarzuola” derives from a marsh plant of the area, “la scarza”, used by San Francesco di Assisi, legend tells us, to build himself a shelter here in the early 13th century. In 1218, San Francesco planted a rosebush and laurel bushes near his primitive hut and caused a spring to gush forth miraculously out of.a rock. The spring still has sacred connotations for the local populace. In the very early 1400’s, a Franciscan monastery was built here – and in the apse of the monastery church, a fresco depicts the Saint in levitation. Until 1876, the monastery remained property of the Franciscans.

La Scarzuola today is a leap from the sacred to the profane (or is it a taking of the sacred to another level?). In 1956, Tomaso Buzzi (1900- 1981), visionary Milanese architect, acquired the monastery complex and soon after, launched his twenty-year project of transformation of the site into his own “Ideal City”, where a fusion between nature and culture could take place in a sort of “theatrical complex”. Buzzi first lovingly restored the monastery and then transformed the humble, innocent gardens of the friars into labyrinthine hedges meandering around rare flowers and statues. After his restoration of the “sacred city”, Buzzi moved on to his creation of the “profane city”, his “città Buzziana”, a sort of “autobiography in stone”. Just beyond the gardens, Buzzi’s città ideale rises out of a natural amphitheater of volcanic tufo rock, like a giant citadel, a sort of spectacular, monumental stage set where wonders and mysteries overlap and fuse with each other: at least seven theaters, an Acropolis, a honeycomb complex of buildings of every architectural style, empty inside but with countless chambers. Buzzi himself termed his project “classical, medieval, Renaissance, Mannerist and also, why not? ..decadent”.

A very personalized neo-Mannerism reigns supreme: stairs jutting out in all directions, deliberate disproportion of many details, and a few monsters, here and there. Fantasy and irrereverence merge in this grafting of the sacred city (monastery and friar’s garden) to the profane (the città Buzziana), both laden with allegories, symbols and secrets. Buildings and monuments bearing indeciphrable symbols and bizzare quotations are piled together, including circular ones imitating Arab astronomical observatories, zoomorphic structures, grottoes for meditation, pagan temples, a chrystal tower similar to a pinnacle on a Gothic cathedral. The Eye of Buddha, Tower of Babel, homage to Teatro della Scala in Milan, a towering Totem of Meditation, a massive nude Madre Dea (Iside), the Arch of Triumph, Theater of Waters, Temple of Vesta merge together, tumble over each other. Buzzi defined his extraordinary project as “an oasis of welcome, of study, of work, of music, silence, greatness and poverty, of social life, heremitic life, contemplation, solitude, fantasy, fables, myths, outside of time and space – so that each can find echoes of the past and visions of the future.”

Since 1981, Buzzi’s nephew, Marco Solari, is carrying on his uncle’s mission of “build and destroy”(!) Reminding me of Dante’s Virgil, Marco had my head spinning as he took me through this astounding surrealistic maze of monuments, embodying something of the evocative, geometric, astronomical, magical…and even miraculous. Contrasting elements working in a sort of bizarre, yet sublime harmony. San Francesco to Salvador Dali. All in one.

To see some amazing photos of Scarzuola: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11780237@N05/5532495360/

See La Scarzuola Facebook page for more photos

To see Marco Solari as he passionately talks about La Scarzuola: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZVN18Lv_8M

tufo-rock-amphitheater

scarzuola-symbols-on-architecture
scarzuola-demon

mixture-of-architectural-styles-in-winter-light

meditative-lake-la-scarzuola

marco-shares-la-scarzuola-curiosities

madre-dea-mammoth-statue

la-scarzuola-a-surreal-theatrical-complex

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

 

Privacy Policy

Privacy Italian Legislative Decree n° 196/2003 Under Article 13 of the Italian Legislative Decree no. 196/2003, regulations with regard to the Protection of Personal Data, this is an informative report to all interested parties on the modality of the treatment of personal data, arising from interaction with our website www.annesitaly.com
THE PRINCIPAL FOR DATA TREATMENT During site consultation, personal data referring to identified or identifiable persons can be processed. The principal for data treatment is Anne Robichaud Pian della Pieve Assisi 06081 (PG) Italy. The data will be mainly processed at the mentioned head office by the people responsible for the website or by other people appointed for occasional maintenance operations, provided that their actions conform to of the guarantees enshrined in the Legislative Decree 196/2003.
TYPE OF DATA TREATED
Web navigation The information systems and software procedures required for the functioning of this website, acquire some personal data during their normal service, the transmission of which is implicit in the use of web communication protocols. This information is not collected with the purpose of identifying interested parties, but due to its very nature, the information could lead to user identification through processes and relations with data held by third parties. In this data category there are IP addresses or domain names belonging to computers used by users who connect to the site, addresses with URI (Uniform Resource Identifier) notification of the requested resources, time of the request, used method in submitting the request to the server, dimension of the file obtained in replying, the numeric code mentioning the reply status given by the server (successful reply, error, etc?) and other parameters referred to the operation system and to the user’s information environment. This data is used with the sole purpose of obtaining anonymous statistical information on the use of the site and to check the correct functioning; immediately after processing, the data is erased.
Data voluntarily supplied by the user The voluntary optional and explicit e-mail transmission to the addresses mentioned in this site implies the subsequent acquisition of the sender’s address, necessary to reply to the queries, as well as the other eventual personal data registered in the message.
OPTIONAL PERSONAL DATA SUPPLY Except for the above mentioned navigation data, the user may be asked to supply his own personal data through queries or messages to the email addresses shown in the contact pages. Failure to provide such data may be the cause of the inability to obtain the requested information from the company.
TREATMENT MODALITY The personal data is treated in compliance with the Legislative Decree no. 196/2003 and held only for the time necessary to achieve the aim for which it has been collected. Specific safety measures are taken to prevent any data loss, illicit or incorrect use and unauthorized access.
RIGHTS OF THIRD PARTIES The data subjects are at any time entitled to obtain confirmation as to whether or not data relating to him are held, to know the contents and the origin, to check the correctness, to ask for integration, updating or change (art. 7 Decree Law 196:June 2003). In accordance with the same article, they are entitled to obtain the erasure, conversion into anonymous form or freezing of all data used in breach of the law, to object, on legitimate grounds, to the processing of data relating to him. All requests have to be transmitted to the e-mail address anne@annesitaly.com

Agenzia Viaggi Stoppini in Assisi handles all technical support for my guided visits (bus transportation, organization of meals, etc)