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Montegabbione, Italy: "La Scarzuola" Offers a Magical Experience in Umbria
A unique vampire novel full of adventure and passion...
Montegabbione, Umbria (Italy)
The very word conjures images of serene hilltop towns consisting of stone buildings and terracotta roofs. Umbria offers the same kind of rustic charm, excellent cuisine, and hospitality as Tuscany- only with much less tourism (with the exception of Assisi, of course).
Most people who come to Italy for the first time do well to visit THE BIG THREE (Rome, Florence, Venice). If, however, you are staying for a long period of time or this is your second trip, I highly advise exploring other places.
Savvy travelers who venture off the beaten trail usually fall in love with the many wonderful things that Umbria for all that it has to offer. It only takes about an hour and a half drive to get to Montegabbione, which is located in the heart of Umbria.
There, you will find La Scarzuola. According to legend, St. Francis of Assisi planted a laurel bush and a rose bush in that area and water from a spring gushed forth- a miracle! The marsh plants that sprang forth were called "scarza" and the saint used these to build a hut for himself. He also founded a convent in the year 1218.
In 1956 a Milanese architect by the name of Tomaso Buzzi purchased the entire convent complex. Filled with ambition and imagination, Buzzi embarked on a quest to construct the ideal city. The result of the 20 year project (1958 - 1978) is "La Scarzuola."
Much of the inspiration for this wonderland full of secrets, symbols, and quotations comes from Francesco Colonna's Hypnerotomachia Poliphili: The Strife of Love in a Dream (1499). Colonna was a monk with a dubious reputation who was obsessed with architecture.
The story itself is a strange one, depicting the mythological, erotic romantic conquest of Polia by Poliphilo. Several fantastic images (woodcuts) accompany this allegorical tale. It is worthy to note that Renaissance intellectuals read this book, and it served as inspiration for their work as well.
The complex boasts an acropolis, seven theaters, and several outdoor sculptures, La Scaezuola is a site not to be missed if you travel through Umbria. Picking up a copy of Francesco Colanna's book would only enhance your experience.
As always, thank you for reading.
C. De Melo
Author & Artist