Italy is the birthplace of the Tarot. The first recorded and recognized Tarot decks were created between 1430 and 1450 in Milan, Ferrara and Bologna. Astrology was part of the Florentine Tarot and a deck that includes the signs called the Minichiate Tarot was created there in the early 16th century.
There are some “must see” locations for the Tarot and Astrology enthusiast planning a trip to Tuscany. Florence has the world’s most important Astrological Church and a Tarot themed restaurant. Hidden in the Tuscan countryside is the famous Tarot sculpture garden.
Located in the Italian village of Capalbio in Garavicchio, Tuscany, this is a sculpture garden based on the 22 Major Arcana cards. It was created by the French artist Niki de Saint Phalle who collaborated with Jean Tinguely to design and produce this architectural and archetypal masterpiece.
The sculptures and dwellings are huge, modernist and recognizable Tarot themes. They were made from soldered steel covered with cement, then decorated with mosaics of ceramic, mirror and glass. The artist resided inside and worked on it for over twenty years.
St. Phalle stated that her Tarot garden was inspired by a dream she had about creating a sculpture garden. She saw the garden as an “esoteric stroll “and viewed the cards as philosophical trials of self-awareness and connection with the Universe. For St. Phalle her larger than life Tarot constructions create a direct encounter with the archetypal world and it’s potential to heal and transform those who interact with it.
Florence – Il Tarrochi Restaurant
My favorite eatery in my neighborhood in Florence is, ironically, Il Tarocchi, or The Tarot. When I received the original copy of the first Tarot book I wrote, I was living in Florence and dined there for a celebratory pizza. The restaurant has Tarot card paintings on the walls above the booths and authentic fare.
Hillsides of Florence Archeoastronomy & San Miniato al Monte
Known as the Medieval Astrological Church, the Basilica of San Miniato built between the 10th and 12th centuries offers a unique experience of archeoastronomy that commemorates a celestial event within a church. Archeoastronomy considers symbolically significant astronomical alignments with important structures such as Stonehenge at summer solstice.
The builders sought to capture the energy of a rare astronomical-astrological configuration – a new Moon with the planets Venus, Mercury, Jupiter with Saturn in the constellation of Taurus that occurred in May 1207. In Medieval church architecture the image that is placed at the main entrance represents the spiritual theme to which it has been dedicated. You’ll walk through the doors and encounter a zodiac mosaic pavement. A Latin inscription in the floor nearby states the time, date and names of the planets that the builders used for the timing to set the zodiac mosaic onto the cathedral floor.
The sign of the Bull has many hidden esoteric meanings. It represents the manifestation of the sacred on the earth plane, such as a temple or sacred place. For those who know the sun represents the divine, this definition explains why the Taurus alignment was captured in stone and illuminated with shafts of sunlight. For those who don’t, the meaning is hidden.
Tuscany isn’t widely known for its mystical side, but its historic relationship with Astrology and the Tarot is an essential part of the real Italian experience.
Your best times for travel in Tuscany are April, May, September and October.
Marcia Masino is a certified Grandmaster of Tarot and author of two classic Tarot books: Easy Tarot Guide and Best Tarot Practices. Her unique metaphysical twist on subjects from travel and food to heritage homes and agriculture makes her a popular magazine contributor. Marcia resides in the GTA.