Unique, Colorful, & Quirky Day Trips from Florence, Italy

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
Categories: 

If you're like me, and want to discover the most colorful, quirky things on your journeys, Italy is full of them. If you're looking for day trips from Florence that fulfill these criteria (because, let's face it, another travel criteria, good food, abounds in Italy!), here are 2 of my favorites.

Unique, Colorful, & Quirky Day Trips from Florence, Italy

Pescia Fiorentina is located a few hours south of Florence. An ancient small town, Pescia Fiorentina was a 16th century industrial center. In this very small town, you can see the 18th century Filla del Fontino, a customs seat of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany; the palazzo is now an agriturismo that focuses on wellness, cycling, and equestrian activities.

Giardino dei Tarocchi

However, the most colorful thing to see is the Tarot Garden, an open air sculpture garden created by French artist Niki de Saint Phalle. She was inspired by the colorful work of Gaudi, and composed a sculpture garden entirely devoted to the Tarot. 

Detail from artist Niki de Saint Phalle's Tarot Garden. From Unique, Colorful, & Quirky Day Trips from Florence, Italy
Detail from artist Niki de Saint Phalle's Tarot Garden. From Unique, Colorful, & Quirky Day Trips from Florence, Italy

The Giardino dei Tarocchi features 22 extraordinary sculptures representing the 22 tarot cards of the Major Arcana, and was created from 1978 through 1998 in an abandoned quarry in Tuscany. Saint Phalle worked with dozens of artists, mosaicists, electricians, ceramicists, painters, architects, and more people of varied backgrounds that came to create together. She even lived there, for a while, inside one of the sculptures!

Detail from artist Niki de Saint Phalle's Tarot Garden. From Unique, Colorful, & Quirky Day Trips from Florence, Italy
Detail from artist Niki de Saint Phalle's Tarot Garden. From Unique, Colorful, & Quirky Day Trips from Florence, Italy
Detail from artist Niki de Saint Phalle's Tarot Garden. From Unique, Colorful, & Quirky Day Trips from Florence, Italy

Saint Phalle worked hard to incorporate art and nature working in dialogue together. When you wander the paths, stunned by the colors around each curve, look at the environment, too. How do they interact? 

Detail from artist Niki de Saint Phalle's Tarot Garden. From Unique, Colorful, & Quirky Day Trips from Florence, Italy

Mirrors galore, colors in abundance, and whimsy all conspire to make this one of the most unique and colorful places you’ll ever experience.

Detail from artist Niki de Saint Phalle's Tarot Garden. From Unique, Colorful, & Quirky Day Trips from Florence, Italy
Detail from artist Niki de Saint Phalle's Tarot Garden. From Unique, Colorful, & Quirky Day Trips from Florence, Italy

Before you go, peruse the interactive map to learn more about each sculpture, in the artist's own words.

Detail from artist Niki de Saint Phalle's Tarot Garden. From Unique, Colorful, & Quirky Day Trips from Florence, Italy

Art Tip: Nearby, stop at the Borgo Ciro Winery for a wine tasting. Of special note to us art lovers is the Arte e Vino, Art and Wine program. Check the facebook page for more information on art installations at the vineyard. 

Castello di Sammezzano

An equally colorful, unique, and creative location near Florence is Castello di Sammezzano, located in Tuscany (only an hour away). Surrounded by a lush California Sequoia forest located on hundreds of acres of land, Castello di Sammezzano is a treasure box...of enormous scope. It’s also one of Italy’s most beloved, if least visited, locations.

Pin & Seek- Castello di Sammezzano- outside. Peacock Room: Inside

With 365 rooms (one for every day of the year!), the castle was built for Spanish nobleman Ximenes d'Aragona in 1605; between 1853-1899, Ferdinand Panciatichi Ximenes remodeled it in Moorish revival style. Each room is tiled with gorgeous colors, in countless styles and patterns.

Pin & Seek: The Peacock Room in Tuscany, and My New Pinterest Obsession

Pin & Seek: The Peacock Room in Tuscany and My New Pinterest Obsession

Pin & Seek: The Peacock Room in Tuscany and My New Pinterest Obsession

Pin & Seek: The Peacock Room in Tuscany and My New Pinterest Obsession

Pin & Seek: The Peacock Room in Tuscany and My New Pinterest Obsession

Pin & Seek: The Peacock Room in Tuscany and My New Pinterest Obsession

Pin & Seek: The Peacock Room in Tuscany and My New Pinterest Obsession

Later, the castle was looted during WWII, served as a luxury hotel and restaurant, was auctioned off (and then withdrawn), and is currently under a non-profit organization intent on saving this extraordinary, though decaying, building. It’s been empty for several decades.

Look at the Peacock Room, by travel expert Laurel Perry, who managed to snag some gorgeous photos (which is a story in and of itself), shared here. 

Currently the sale of the castle is still in question; get on the reservations list as soon as possible, to have a possibility to explore this fantastical, colorful palace.

Interested in more Florence-area goodness? Read my latest article on Florence, which includes the Piazzale Michelangelo!

 

 

Share