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   MY LABYRINTH by Franco Maria Ricci                      STATUS OF WORKS

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Why build a labyrinth

by Franco Maria Ricci


Labyrinths have always fascinated me.
Along with gardens, they are among humanity's most ancient inventions. The Garden, or Eden
so beautiful that Adam and Eve, freshly created, couldn't stop rubbing their eyes in wonder is the incarnation of innocence and happiness; the labyrinth on the other hand, is a creation of power and a source of turmoil. It reflects our perplexed experience of reality.
I first envisaged building a labyrinth twenty years ago, at a period in time when I frequently had one guest in particular staying at my house in the countryside near Parma, a friend, not to mention a hugely contributor to the publishing house I had recently founded: the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges.


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It is widely known that the labyrinth has always been one of his favourite topics; the trajectories traced by his hesitant blind man's steps reminded me of uncertainties faced by those who, during their life's journey, negotiate enigma and forks in the road. I believe that it was watching him and talking to him about the strange routes men follow that sparked the initial idea for my project.

As you know, when Minos had his Labyrinth built 
as a prison  he had dark and cruel intentions in mind; I imagined a benevolent version, that would also be a garden, where people could walk in safety, perhaps getting lost every once in a while.

 

My passion for bamboo  that elegant plant, so rarely used in the West, especially in Italy  gave me the material for the project.

 

From then on, and over the last few years in particular, the undertaking has absorbed much of my time.
When the labyrinth project was born it was a rather private matter. I wanted to leave something of myself to the land that had nourished and also to some extent enriched my family; rather like the gentleman Vicino Orsini, who translated his solitary fantasies into the Park of Monster of Bomarzo.

As time passed that initial idea was for the most part transformed.
By now, I have come to think of my enterprise above all as a legacy 
as a way of giving back to the Po Valley, which includes Parma, and to its countryside and nearby cities. Today my idea for this labyrinth is to be a meeting point and a social venue.

The labyrinth complex will include a Museum, which will house my art collection and temporary exhibitions, a Library, which will include many pieces by Bodoni and Tallone, a pyramid-shaped Chapel, salons, which will be the venue for concerts, parties, exhibitions and other cultural events. There will also be a cafeteria, a bistro and a restaurant, and obviously the Labyrinth. It takes up seven hectares of land and it has been built entirely out of several varieties of the bamboo plant.


It is the largest labyrinth in the world, at least for now, and it is also one of the widest bamboo plantation in Europe





 

Franco Maria Ricci

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Rendering of the labyrinth complex (photo by Franco Maria Ricci/Studio Bontempi, 2010)

 

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Rendering of the labyrinth complex (by Franco Maria Ricci/Studio Bontempi, 2010)

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Pyramid-shaped chapel, project by Pier Carlo Bontempi, watercolor by Giuseppe Greci

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View of the central court (by Franco Maria Ricci/Studio Bontempi)

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Corridor inside the bamboo labyrinth

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