Saturday, September 22, 2012

CIN CIN - a piu tardi, see you later

Visconti-Sforza Tarots restored by A.A.Attanassov

I'm off to Italy for the Tarot tour*--from Milan to Ferrara, Bologna, Rioli, Tuscany, Florence, Siena et plus. One of our first stops the Duomo (Gothic Cathedral), the Plazza Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II & Libraria Esoterica, a metaphysical shop filled with tarot decks. After lunch, lucky us, we'll get to meet Osvaldo Menegazzi, internationally renowned tarot artist and publisher and visit his shop Il Meneghello.  Here is a photo from the 2011 Italy tour's visit with Osvaldo:

Next day, the Castello Sforzesco, where the ancient Visconti tarot cards were found in an old well. We'll rub shoulders with the frescoes of Leonardo da Vinci and Bonifacio Bembo (creator of the earliest known tarot deck). I will have my Leonardo da Vinci deck with me--the one Kevin found at Clos du Luce in Amboise a few years ago.  I haven't worked with it much and this should be the perfect opportunity to pick up some da Vinci vibes!

Frescoe, Leonardo da Vinci - Castello Sforzesco
Bonifacio Bembo Fescoe

For our week in Tuscany we will stay at Castello di Montalto, in the area known as La Berdenga, which is an extensive territory in the Chianti region.

Castello di Montalto - Tuscany
But perhaps the place I am most excited about seeing is the Tarot Garden of Niki de Saint Phalle.  Born to a French father and American mother outside of Paris in 1930, but moved to the USA in 1933 after being wiped out by the Great Depression. Niki revealed her artistic temperament and rebellious streak early on; dismissed from the prestigious Brearley school in NYC for painting fig leaves on the school's statuary.  A fashion model in her teenage years, she was on the 1952 cover of French Vogue. 

Niki de Saint Phalle

Niki de Saint Phalle painted her way from Paris to Switzerland, Spain to Germany, finally moving to the Ca. in 1994. Perhaps best known for her "shooting paintings", collages and the life size dolls she made of brides and mothers giving birth-- exploring the roles of women.

Influenced by Gaudi's Parc Guell in Barcelona and Paro der Mostri in Bomarzo as well as Palais Ideal by Ferdinand Cheval and Watts Towers by Simon Rodia, Niki de Saint Phalle decided that she wanted to make something similar; a monumental sculpture park created by a woman. In 1979 she acquired some land in Garavicchio, Tuscany, along the coast. The garden, called Giardino dei Tarocchi, contains sculptures of the symbols found on Tarot cards.  The garden took many years and a pile of dough to complete. It opened in 1998, after nearly 20 years of work. We will be able to explore, interact and actually touch the 22 Trumps with the Mediterranean sea as our backdrop.

Giardino dei Tarocchi
 Niki died in California in 2002;  Here is her "Guardian Angel" floating high in the cavernous space of the Zurich, Switzerland Hauptbahnhof.  Calling all Angels...  Arrivederci

Guardian Angel - Niki de Saint Phalle

*Our hosts for the tour are Arnell Ando, Michael McAteer and official tour guide:  Morena Poltronieri of  Museo dei Tarocchi. We are blessed to have these amazing, knowledgeable people at the helm.  If you would like to check out Arnell's gallery, her mystical art works, miniature tarot parlors, art boxes, and the tarot decks she has created, you can visit her at

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