Deep in the valleys of Umbria is the small town Montegabbione, mostly known for the incredible mind-bending experience of La Scarzuola. This is a small architectural complex built in the 1950s by futurist architect Tomaso Buzzi who imagined what a perfect city could look like. The compound was first a convent that housed Saint Frances of Assisi, and after disuse for centuries, was bought after WWII as the ignition to one man’s vision.
It must be experienced as a journey of illumination: it begins facing West away from the sun, and ends toward East into the light, like exiting the womb. You begin in a small dark church, bid your goodbyes to all your lessons of religion, and walk downward toward the outdoors and the elements, through the grassy stone paths. Past the sound of birds, trees swaying, and small fountains dripping water. You arrive at the city’s “piazza” with a theater layout, one of seven amphitheaters, the main one meeting at a metal statue of a conductor facing a giant glass eye window, absorbing the music and ideals from the villagers, illuminati.
It was never used, simply idealized. Bee sculptures decorate the walls like religious icons, a symbol of family and ancestry. The theater of life is represented in a giant sculpture of a woman’s naked body celebrates all women, against the male towers that dominated the world. It calls to the human impulse of lust. The third nipple works as a sundial. The entire journey is guided along paths beneath concatenated roots, because we are all connected. A tower of Babel completes the journey into illumination.
Every detail is inspired by hermetic philosophy, surrealism, symbolism, and the principles of nature, but also protest, innovation, and a vision for a new direction of how we should and could live.