Tarot Travel Guide of Italy –
History of a Mystery from the Renaissance
Author: Morena Poltronieri, Ernesto Fazioli, Arnell Ando
Translated by: Arnell Ando
Museo dei Tarocchi
I truly honor my friendship with co-author Arnell Ando. If we had never met (in cyberspace), I would have missed out on so many things – this lovely book included! The 200 page, 100 copy first printing of “Tarot Travel Guide of Italy” takes the reader on an incredible journey of the Tarot through the Renaissance period in Italy. We see the Tarot as it develops in Italy from its early roots, with a peek into the actual physical places connected with this history. Reflected in this book are the Tarot tours that Arnell Ando, along with Morena Poltronieri and Ernesto Fazioli of the Tarot Museum have led over the past several years, including a map with key locations and an actual itinerary of their tour. What a nice time out from the day to day of life, to be able to step into the world of Tarot in a significantly unique manner! Where else could you get even a glimpse of the richness of the Tarot world, from Ferrara and Milan, to a Mediterranean garden of incredible sculptures, to an amazing museum dedicated to the Tarot!
From the back cover:
Morena Poltronieri and Ernesto Fazioli have been working for over thirty years in the field of anthropological research of symbols; specializing in major art work and architecture, both in Italy and abroad. They have written numerous books on these and related subjects, and direct the International Museum of Tarot in Italy. www.museodeitarrochi.net.
Arnell Ando is the creator of “Hero’s Journey Tarot”, “Transformational Tarot”, and “Lucky Pack Tarot”. She co-organizes the Tarot Art History Tours with the Museo dei Tarrochi. www.arnellart.com”.
What a rich background the co-authors have and what a depth of knowledge they bring to their subject! (Note the front cover, with illustrations from the “Tarot Monteiri”, an eighteenth century Tarot deck.)
The “Tarot Travel Guide of Italy” begins with an introduction to the possible origins of Tarot, including China, India, Gypsies, Egypt, Cabala, the cards of Fez, Morocco, the Crusades and more. The Tarot is discussed as being a series of symbols holding primordial energies of existence. The information given is interesting, with a plethora of research points for further study.
From there we move on to the city of Bologna (where Tarot was born). Included here is a beautiful graphic of the Rosenwald Tarot, the Aces from the Tarocchino Tarot Bolognese, a chart showing the major arcana titles in the regional dialect, as well as Italian and English, and much more! The text discusses the evolution of the major arcana, the numbering (or lack of numbering) of the cards and tidbits such as Saint Petronius being the first Hanged Man image in history. Another interesting tidbit is the burning of all the Tarot decks in the city under the auspices of the historical figure Saint Bernardino (Bernardino da Siena). (Remember – Tarot was considered a game at this time.)
One of my favorite stories revolves around the church of St. Stephen, in Bologna. There are full color pics of the church, and of the symbols that were built into it. It also contains the Martyrs (the place for sacred relics), the Holy Garden, and the Anastasis.
Two of my favorite images in this book are the full color images of Triumph of Fame, and Triumph of Death, both by Lorenzo Costa.
Moving on, we come to Milan, and the Visconti Sforza Tarot. It is amazing to follow the actual people behind the decks, and how the culture of their time influenced the presentation of the cards.
This book is unique in that it was written to accompany an actual present day journey to visit the places of historical interest in Italy, with an emphasis on the Tarot. The historical background is in depth, allowing this book to serve as a stand-alone guide, but also to act as a template for any individual who chooses to visit these historical sites. Once there, an individual would also have a sense of what to look for at each site, and of the history of the individuals that once lived there.
This book also serves as a historical resource and is graced with both black and white and full color images that bring the magic into being. I loved the section on the Tarot Garden, a literal garden of Tarot sculptures created by Niki de Saint Phalle. One venue that is not to be missed is the Mueso dei Tarocchi, in Riola. Incredible work is being done here, both in the preservation of history and historical objects, and in the production of new, limited edition decks.
In the back of the book is a beautifully done section including maps of Italy, and the individual cities of Bologna, Milan, Ferrara, Bergamo, Varese, Clusone, Siena, Capalbio and Riola. Each map is marked with must see historical sites.
For anyone with an interest in Tarot or Tarot history, this is a must have book. Each order is accompanied by a bonus of at least two Tarot art postcards, a magnet, and matching artsy stamps which reference details in the Travel Guide. Aside from being well written and well researched, the book is filled with black and white scans and full page, full color reproductions. I highly recommend this book, as it takes you deep into the history of the Tarot, while at the same time showing you actual physical places where you can check out Tarot history, and see the mark that it literally left on the landscape.
© 2015 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.