Giving shapes to visions: La Scarzuola

Hidden among the low Umbria’s valleys there is Tommaso Buzzi’s masterpiece of architectural imagination: La Scarzuola, a complex of buildings, walls, temples, and theatres which, seen as unique yet heterogenous whole, represents Buzzi’s vision of the “Ideal City” (a leitmotif in Italian architecture). The project started in 1956 when Buzzi purchased the land along with the old and abandoned monastery on it and began to give his visionary ideas a certain kind of form and rules. He wanted a city which could mirror himself and his designs, an allegory of existence where a "hermetic and difficult language" could mix with stunning architecture.

From 1958 to 1979 the architect built an outstanding theatrical scenography, deliberately left incomplete, where an observant and experienced traveller might see resemblances of world-wide famous monuments such as the Parthenon, Colosseum, and Pyramids and other example of classic architecture as Villa d’Este and Villa Adriana. Esoteric and masonic symbols are all over the place and it may be hard to grasp and understand them all, but luckily the visit is possible just with a guide. Buzzi himself said that this place “can be understood just by unhappy few who are rare and elected spirits”. This is probably why he never wanted to go deeper in explaining this work of his, which is open and unfinished for his choice.

After passing through a cave dug out of stone, the visitors find themselves in front of three doors: the Gloria Dei leads to monastery which can be read as the divine, the Mater Amoris brings to Cupid’s vessel, and the last one, Gloria Mundi, leads to nowhere but back to the start, underlying the triviality and vacuity of the things on Earth. But what La Scarzuola is all about is Theatre and, passed the “holy” location, this appears clear: the city has seven different theatre scenes inside itself.

I feel like saying that the Acropoli of the Teatrum Mundi is arguably the apex of this stunning complex: several buildings and structures lay on each other while also being somehow tangled together as a puzzle. The result is impressive; at a first close look it is hard to find a meaning but slowly everything stands out as unitary and indivisible. La Scarzuola is one of those places where extreme visions are given a form, and this doesn’t happen often so take your chance to experience this place.

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