Italy: Il Giardino di Daniel Spoerri- A modern art garden in the Maremma

Il Giardino di Daniel Spoerri is an erratic outdoor collection of sculptures located in the Southern Tuscan town of Seggiano.

Why visit?
The Giardino di Daniel Spoerri is a beautiful modern art garden in its own right, but to discover it in a provincial paradise like the Maremma Tuscany is downright delightful. It’s the last thing you would expect and one of the most outstanding and unusual sights in the area.

Il Giardino di Daniel Spoerri is in Seggiano, located about 2 ½ hours from Rome and 2 hours from Florence. Map.

SEGGIANO IS YOUR textbook country Tuscan town. Understand this and your discovery of the Giardino di Daniel Spoerri will be all the more beguiling.

The outdoor gallery has 105 modern art sculptures, most by the Romanian-Swiss artist’s own hands, others by artists from all the far-flung corners of the globe.

You’ve probably never heard of any of them and are wondering why I’m gushing about this like it’s an undiscovered corner of the Louvre. Daniel Spoerri’s garden is so remarkable because it is so unexpected. In a town that stands out for its olive oil and sheep festivals is a sanctuary of modern art that is secluded and startling and, simply, a fantastic way to spend a summer’s afternoon.
Even on the garden’s busiest days, it’s impossible to feel crowded. The sculptures are spread across 16 hectares of Tuscany’s loveliest countryside. You’re dutifully given a map, but you’ll most likely end up wandering through the garden utterly lost and utterly content.

The garden’s name comes from its position. In old maps, the area was called ‘Il Paradiso’ and a lot of the sculptures play on the idea of Mother Nature and the corruption of man. There’s even a piece titled Adamo ed Eva (Adam and Eve) carved out of a gold-flecked olive branch.

Still you never know what to expect as each sculpture comes into view. In the orchard, Alfonso Huppi's Le Torre degli Amanti is guarded by four Hitchcock-esque ravens. A little further down, Daniel Spoerri’s own Sentiero murato labirinitiforme is a maze of stones that forms a tribal-style face only discernible from the nearby raised platform. In another part of the garden, bronze soldiers sit at a small pond, an elderly woman sews her head to her legs and skulls stand on pikes.

Every visitor has a favourite. When I found Olivier Estoppey's Dies Irae - Jour de colère, I never wanted to leave. This truly captivating installation features 160 stone ducks marching their way towards Seggiano to the beat of three colossal drummer men. The sculpture’s name means Judgment Day and with the sound of real ducks quacking around you, the scene comes to life. Keep an eye out for the little drummer boy hidden behind the tree.
None of the pieces are masterpieces in the traditional sense, but I can’t imagine anyone would visit the Giardino di Daniel Spoerri and feel disappointed. If only for the sheer fact that it is the last thing you’d expected to find in country Tuscany: the sort of destination that is still off the tourist radar and all the more special for it.

Getting there:
You could hypothetically catch one of the Tiemme bus services to the Giardino di Daniel Spoerri, but public transport is erratic in the Maremma and you’re much better off hiring a car if you want to explore this off the beaten track destination.

Useful links:
For more information, check out the Garden's official website

About the author: 
Elisa is an Australian journalist who came to Tuscany for a year, fell in love, how cliché? And decided to stick around. Not one to keep paradisiacal holiday destinations to herself, she now writes a Tuscan travel blog and online travel guide about the infinitely beautiful Tuscan Maremma, so that others can get a taste of la dolce vita.

Elisa previously wrote about another Minor Sight in the Maremma, the town of Montemerano, the undiscovered Tuscany