In 1996, American artist Sheppard Craige started a topiary work of art at Ragnaia, and it is still evolving to this day. At first sight, some of the more orderly views of symmetrical plants recall historic gardens all’italiana.
Entering the woods, however, it becomes clear that Craige created each detail with his unique poetic flair. Along the way, one passes the Altar of Scepticism, the Centre of the Universe, and the Oracle of Oneself. While there is no specific symbolism underlying the project, there are occasional features inspired by the past, sayings in Latin and various modern languages, fountains and pools, and curious out-of-scale groups — abandoned sculptures, forest animals reduced to handles for earthenware pots, and small and large changes to the landscape that intensify the enigmatic quality of the park, encouraging individual interpretations of this magic atmosphere. Indeed, the artist says that sages reign over these woods.
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