The site at Scarzuola started out as a simple wooden shack in the Umbrian countryside, a tranquil, remote residence for the wandering St Francis, south of Perugia. It was here that in 1218 he planted a bay tree and a rose bush and then a fresh, bubbling spring promptly erupted. Over time St Francis’s humble dwelling grew into a monastery and today in the church’s apse you can still see a 13th century fresco of the saint levitating.
In 1956 the famous Milanese Architect, Tommaso Buzzi acquired the eight
hundred year old complex at Scarzuola, by which time it had fallen into
decay and was in much need of repair. Buzzi set about creating his own
perfect, if not surreal, city around the grounds of Scarzuola,
incorporating the original buildings; he added many ingenious designs
and touches of his own.
The result is an eccentric and fascinating city of dreams that expresses
Buzzi’s many influences, classical and renaissance references as well
as surrealistic and fanciful juxtapositions. His wonderfully innovative
folly is a combination of the existing ecclesiastical buildings from the
convent, which became the sacred city and his own secular works that
make up the Buzziana. This is complete with seven theatres, a tower of
Babel, an acropolis and a maze of staircases.
Buzzi populated his landscape around Scarzuola with symbols, poetic
passages and enigmatic icons, all full of personal meaning and mystery.
Everywhere you look there are sculptures, fountains and pools all
elaborately decorated. Visitors are taken down tunnels into Cypress
filled glades, up winding staircases and onto panoramic terraces; the
walker faces constant choices, poems and monsters in their entertaining
exploration. The whole experience at Scarzuola is a trip into the
creative genius of Buzzi and the references in which he found
After his death in 1980 Buzzi’s cousin, Marco Solari took over
management of the site and today he shows tourists around his uncle’s
magical world. In Scarzuola, Buzzi has left us with a marvellous
collection of buildings, part childhood puzzle and part intellectual
game but either way a fantastic vision in the landscape.
Scarzuola is not open directly to the public but visitors interested
in wandering around the interesting grounds of Tommaso Buzzi’s fabulous
creation can arrange an appointment. The site of the Sacred City and
Buzziana can be found near the village of Montegiove, Montegabbione in
the Umbrian hills south of Perugia.
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