Curious attractions, Italy's garden mazes and labyrinths | Bellarome

Curious attractions, Italy’s garden mazes and labyrinths

From Veneto, to Sicily, to the hills of Florence. Ancient and modern, ten beautiful garden labyrinths & mazes to wander and get lost in.

Ten mazes to get lost in on an autumn day. Fascinating and seductive places, that have enchanted man since ancient times, whose name derives from Labrys: the double ax that in Crete was the emblem of royal power. And in Knossos, on the island of Crete, the first labyrinth was built by the Greek architect Daedalus, wanted by King Minos to lock up the Minotaur, monstrous half man and half bull.

We begin our journey through the most curious mazes of Italy from South Tyrol and in particular from a wine labyrinth. It is located in the old estate of the Kränzelhof winery in Cermes, near Merano. Inaugurated in 2006 and built with over ten different species of vines, it is constantly evolving. Along the path from the floor in stone slabs 1.5 km long, you can admire works of art and a monumental table in oak wood, 30 meters long. In the near Veneto we find five labyrinths. On the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, in Venice, in front of Piazza San Marco, we visit the modern Borges Labyrinth, a reconstruction of the garden-labyrinth that the English architect Randoll Coate designed in honor of the famous Argentine writer. Located behind the Cloister of the Palladio, it is composed of over 3000 boxwood plants, which draw a path of just over a kilometer; is inspired by the story “The garden of forking paths” and contains a series of objects that represent the symbols dear to Borges: a stick, the mirrors, the hourglass, the sand, the tiger and a huge question mark.

Much older is the labyrinth found in the park of Villa Pisani, in Stra (VE). Built in the eighteenth century on a design by the Paduan architect Girolamo Frigimelica de ‘Roberti, it has maintained its original layout of nine concentric circles crafted out of boxwood hedges, with a central turret equipped with a double external helical stairway to confuse visitors even more. The maze of Stra was conceived essentially for playful purposes, as a labyrinth of love in which to get lost and then find the right path and get the longed-for prize. In the park surrounding the Castle of San Pelagio, in Due Carrare, in the province of Padua, home of the Museo del Volo, you can lose yourself in two mazes: the Minotaur Labyrinth, which tells the myth of Icarus’s flight, without forgetting the function of the labyrinths of the Venetian villas, and the labyrinth of the “Maybe That Perhaps That No” which underlines the D’Annunzio concept of double.

Even the Monumental Garden of Villa Barbarigo, in Valsanzibio di Galzignano Terme, in the Padua area, is home to a labyrinth made of 6000 evergreen boxwood shrubs, mostly planted between 1664 and 1669. Designed by Luigi Bernini, fountain maker and Pontifical architect on indications of San Gregorio Barbarigo (then cardinal), it leads those who walk along it to end up in one of the six blind alleys dedicated to as many deadly sins (greed, lust, avarice, laziness, anger and envy), or in the double vicious circle that represents the 7th and the most insidious capital vice, pride. A metaphor that invites us to reflect on our mistakes to reach salvation, that is the center of the labyrinth and its highest point.

A few kilometers from Verona, there is the labyrinth of the Sigurtà Park, in Valeggio sul Mincio. At the center of the maze drawn from over 1500 boxwood plants, stands a tower, inspired by that of the Bois de Boulogne park in Paris, with a copper-clad dome and two opposing staircases leading to a terrace from which you can admire the geometry of the path itself and the other natural attractions of the garden. Moving west, here is the Castello di Masino, in Caravino in the province of Turin. A manor that for over a thousand years has dominated the Canavese, today owned by the Italian Environment Fund, which houses one of the largest labyrinths in Italy within the park. Reconstructed using two thousand hornbeams, scrupulously following the eighteenth-century drawing found in the archives, it proposes a path full of twists and turns.

Among the visitable labyrinths, the most recent is that of the Masone in Fontanellato, in the province of Parma, made using over 200,000 plants of different species of bamboo. Inaugurated in 2015 and wanted by the designer Franco Maria Ricci, it is inspired by the mosaics of the villas and thermal Roman baths. The path, with a star plan, is more than three kilometers long and his visit allows you to admire hundreds of works from the art collection of Franco Maria Ricci. Also some of the gardens that surround the Tuscan Medici Villas preserve mazes. Small botanical jewels, like that of box hedges that can be admired in the Petraia Gardens, on the hills of Florence. The last maze is made of dry stone walls of white stone and is located in the park of the Castle of Donnafugata, in Sicily. Here the visitor finds himself wandering inside a trapeze, almost certainly inspired by the maze of Hampton Court, near London.

Find out how you can visit these locations with us at Bellarome Italian Vacations.