"The most magnificent garden in the Toskana" Grosseto by iris2002

Grosseto Travel Guide: 35 reviews and 110 photos

The Garden of the Tarot cards




ADDRESS: Giardino dei Tarocchi, Pescia Fiorentina, Capalbio, Provincia de Grossetto (58100),
Tel +39 564 89 51 22 *

I had the privilege to meet the assitant architect of Mario Botta --- who helped build these sculptures and he became a good friend. Marco Iacotonio worked for the artist Niki de Saint Phalle - who designed these magnificent sculptures that one can walk into... some are hollow and laid out like rooms... you can sleep in some .... and the interior is as spectacular as the exterior.

The gardens are not too far from Rome - about 70miles north-west near Capalbio - already in the Toskana region: Regione Grosseto.

The artist - Niki de Saing Phalle

"Without Death, Life has no meaning" : Niki de Saint Phalle's death in May 2002 meant the loss of a woman of diverse creative talent. For fans of mosaic though, her great lagacy centers on the huge Cyclops in the Fontainbleu forest near Paris, and her stunning sculpture garden in Italy. The Tarot Garden (Giardino Dei Tarocchi) is an exploration of the human condition whose medium is mosaic on a monumental scale. These almost impossibly brightly coloured combinations of buildings and sculpture reflect the metaphysical qualities represented by the 22 main tarot cards (the major arcana). They're not concerned with the fortune-telling uses of the cards, rather the elements of life's experience, personality and self-knowledge they refer to. Work on the garden began in 1979 and the main part of the work was carried out in the 1980s; it was officially opened to the public in May 1998. During construction Niki de Saint Phalle lived in the sphinx-like Empress, a mirror-glassed cavern with kitchen, bedroom and bathroom leading off.

1930 Niki de Saint Phalle was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. She was brought up in New York where her family immigrated in the late twenties.

1948-1955 She begins to paint. She marries the writer Harry Mathews with whom she will have two children Laura and Philip. The Mathews take up residence in Europe (Paris, Mallorca and Nice). In Barcelona she discovers the architecture of Gaudli which will profoundly influence her later work.

1956 First show of paintings in St. Gallen, Switzerland. She begins a series of assemblage paintings made with found objects imbedded in plaster and paint.

1972-1975 In Jerusalem's Rabinovitch Park constructs a monster sculpture for children the "Golem". In Knokke-le-Zout, Belgium, constructs a play house for children "The Dragon" for the Nellens family. Writes and directs her first film "Daddy" in collaboration with Peter Whitehead. Permanently installs three monumental ''Nanas'' in the center of the city Hanover, Germany. Writes and directs a film ''Camelia and the Dragon".

1979-1996 Her major work during this time is the ''Tarot-Garden'' in Garavicchio in the south of Tuscany. A group of twenty two monumental sculptures, some of them living spaces, which are inspired by the 22 major arcana. They will be made in cement and covered in mosaic, mirrors, glass and ceramic.

1980-1986 Retrospective of Niki's at the Pompidou Center in Paris. Collaborates with Tinguely on the ''Stravinsky Fountain'' in front of the Pompidou Center. Starts a perfume to finance the construction of theTarot Garden. Installs a monumental sculpture the ''Sun God'' at the University of California in San Diego, USA. Writes and illustrates a book with Professor Silvio Barandun, "AIDS" : You Can't Catch It Holding Hands,'' which is translated and published in five languages.

1987-1993 President Mitterrand commissions Tinguely and Saint Phalle to make a fountain for theTown Square of Château-Chinon where he had been mayor. She makes a series of kinetic reliefs, or paintings in movement, called the ''Exploding Paintings''. A retrospective of Saint Phalle's work is organized by the Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle of Bonn, Germany, by Pontus Hulten, which travels to the McLellan, Glasgow, Scotland, to the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, and the Museum of Art and History of Frilbourg, Switzerland. Permanent installment in Duisburg, Germany, of a large sculpture called "Bird in Love''. *

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:memories of good friends
  • In a nutshell:.... the cards never lie ...
  • Last visit to Grosseto: Dec 1994
  • Intro Updated Apr 16, 2006
  • Add to Trip Planner (?)
  • Report Abuse

Reviews (2)

Comments (5)

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Aug 4, 2009 at 1:43 PM

    The grotesque art was wonderful. We liked the area and the city a lot

  • PALLINA's Profile Photo
    May 9, 2008 at 11:14 AM

    I visited the Giardino dei Tarocchi one week ago and by far I had never heard about it. I found it fantastic and it's a pity that most of Italians don't know it

  • aussiedoug's Profile Photo
    Jun 7, 2006 at 12:46 AM

    What a fascinating introduction. When I eventally get to la bella italia I really would like to visit here. Thanks for enlightening me about it & that amazing artist.

  • chancay's Profile Photo
    Apr 19, 2006 at 9:35 AM

    before I scrolled down the first I thought was that this must be NdSPhalle! Honestly I don´t know that much about her, but we have gladly a lot of her works here in Hannover ;-))) ..more than "only" the "Nanas"

  • icunme's Profile Photo
    Apr 15, 2006 at 8:08 AM

    Thank you for most interestings pages and, especially, the into to Niki de Saint Phalle and her work. Grazie...... Ciao, Carol


“Mostly barefoot, outside my comfort zone ... ”

Online Now


Top 1,000 Travel Writer
Member Rank:
0 0 7 9 4
Forum Rank:
0 7 1 6 6

Badges & Stats in Grosseto

  • 2 Reviews
  • 4 Photos
  • 0 Forum posts
  • 1,380PageViews

Have you been to Grosseto?

  Share Your Travels  

Travel Interests

See All Travel Interests (5)