Alright, so I’ve gone a little art mad in the Maremma recently.
But it’s winter. The region has fallen into a contented slumber and everything is oh so quiet, which of course makes it the perfect time to really appreciate the artists who call the beautiful Maremma home.
All of the 5 art parks in the Tuscan Maremma are currently closed unless you call beforehand.
To be honest, I think it’s actually preferable to visit these parks now, even if it’s a little chilly, than in the middle of summer when it can get scorching hot and you’re elbowing tourists in the eyes for space… or in my case, the stomach because I’m so short!
I was lucky enough to be the only person in the park. More than 15 hectares of gorgeous Maremman countryside and 100 sculptures just for me! Pure bliss.
I knew nothing about Daniel Spoerri before I visited. Now in his 80s, Spoerri was born in Romania, but moved with his family to Switzerland to escape racial persecution.
There he excelled as a ballerina in Bern before turning to Eat Art, a movement that uses food to create art. Spoerri has written cookbooks, dabbled in theatre, owned a restaurant and been exalted for his creative genius all over the world.
His garden in Seggiano is a labor of love. The majority of the pieces, placed almost randomly throughout the countryside, are his, but there are also numerous contributions from international artists of almost every calibre.
This eclectic mix of sculpture art makes for a very enjoyable morning or afternoon’s worth of exploring. There is no path, no signs and the sculptures don’t follow any sequential order.
I sincerely felt like Alice in Wonderland lost in a 15 hectare world filled with weird and wonderful things. In the orchard, I came across Alfonso Huupi’s Le torre degli Amanti, a brick well that towers overhead, guarded by four very Hitchcock like ravens.
Among the olive trees and cedars, Spoerri’s own Guerrieri della notte bronze soldiers greeted me in the midst of a small pond, while out in the forest behind them, Pavel Schmidt’s Non aprire prima che il treno sia fermo called me from afar with its magnificent steel and stone Venus and David, suspended from the sky on a buffer stop of an old train.
And everywhere I looked, I’d spot a stone meals laid out on marble tabletops, couches covered in grass or eternal looking faces staring at me from pedestals.
Even if you’re no art expert, like me, the garden is a spectacular way to spend a few hours. At one point, I threw order to the wind and began stumbling through the gardens completely lost and utterly enthralled by what was waiting for me behind the next corner. I became a sort of lost traveller and the artworks became my signposts.
I would stumble upon them, admire them, look around into the horizon for the next piece I could see and then stumble off in that direction. As the sculptures are only tenuously linked in style or inspiration, the experience never becomes stale. Every new piece you find is a new surprise as you stare upon it trying to guess its meaning.
My two favourite pieces in the entire garden were:
1. Spoerri’s own Sentiero murato labirintiforme. Every Italian garden needs a maze and while Spoerri’s might be too small to get lost in, it’s incredible to behold, shaped like pre-Colombian petroglyph, which the simpleton in me thought looked like face.
2. Oliver Estoppey’s Dies Irae – Jour de colère. Possibly the most famous piece in the entire garden, this gorgeous sculpture features 160 stone ducks marching their way towards Seggiano at the beat of three colossal Drummer Men. The picture is only made more evocative by the sounds of real ducks quacking in the grounds around you. A stone boy hides behind one of the olive trees hugging his duck, so be sure to look out for him!
Daniel Spoerri’s Sculpture Garden is both at home with the Maremman countryside and completely alien, but it really does make for an unforgettable holiday experience, especially if you’re lucky enough to admire it alone as I did.
Important info: Just remember, there is a lot to see, so make sure you leave plenty of time to admire the sculptures properly. Wear comfortable shoes and bring a bottle of water and something to eat if you’re visiting around lunchtime. The restaurant and cafe are only open during the high summer season.
If it’s winter, rug up and bring gloves because the Seggiano winds can be nippy. If it’s summer, wear a hat or risk passing out before you’ve seen anything!
Address: Localita’ Il Giardino, Seggiano, GR 58038
1st April – 1st July: Tue- Sun: 11am to 8pm
1st July- 15th Sept: daily, 11am-8pm
15th Sept- 31st Oct: Tues -Sun: 11am-7pm
1st November- 31st March: by appointment only
Price: €10 for adults
For more information visit: www.danielspoerri.org