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American art collector and world traveler Eli Portnoy reminded me to make time this summer for a visit at the Chianti Sculpture Park. Here's why (in Eli's words):

Italian family friends from Venice introduced me a few weeks ago to the Sculpture Park and Performance Center of Chianti in the small town of Pievasciata 8 miles north of Siena. A true cultural gem not well known apart from a few European tourists and Tuscan locals. It’s a bit off the beaten track (part of the road is actually dirt), but I was delighted by what was at the end of the drive.

Glass Labyrinth at Chianti Sculpture Park near Siena
Glass Labyrinth at Chianti Sculpture Park

Chianti Sculpture Park: Glass and Neon Rainbow Sculpture
Glass and Neon Rainbow
Among the beauty of the Tuscan countryside exists this 17 acre art park with over 30 works from around the world placed by each artist into the natural wooded setting. These are large museum quality works of glass, metal and wood. Some are interactive like the glass Labyrinth with a wonderful photo op in the middle (I won’t give out the surprise), the glass and neon Rainbow and a piece called Energy which is a 33 foot tall 16 ton tornado like sculpture of glass. One art piece is a series of highly polished cubes set into a winding path that once you enter sets off a series of recorded messages from each cube.
Energy - glass sculpture at the Chianti Sculpture Park
"Energy" - one of the interactive sculptures at the park

A highlight is the amphitheater sculpture that is both art work and performance space for live concerts (that are held throughout the summer months). The theater set into the hillside has metal sculptural “celebrities” worked into the seating area. So imagine watching an opera performance and sitting next to Alfred Hitchcock! A must see work.

Alfred Hitchcock at the amphitheater of the Chianti Sculpture Park
Hitchcock getting a private view at the park's amphitheater
Husband and wife art collectors Piero and Rosalba Giadrossi built the park as well as turned a local tile factory just down the drive into their home, smaller art gallery space and museum store perched on a hilltop with glorious views of Chianti vineyards.

I had a splendid private tour with the highly knowledgeable and very passionate art patron Piero but there are other knowledgeable docents available for tours everyday. Wine tastings can be arranged at the facility with advanced notice but I highly recommended checking out the performance schedule and visiting both the park and taking in a live performance if possible.

Where: CHIANTI SCULPTURE PARK Pievasciata (10 min. from Siena)
Phone: +39 0577 357151
Hours: 10am to sunset daily (summer)
Fees: 7.5 Euros for the park, 15 Euros for the park and concert

Thank you Eli!
Got a soft spot for sculptures parks too? Tuscany's beautiful landscape has besotted many a talented artist: Niki the Saint Phalle's Tarot Garden in Capalbio, Daniel Spoerri's Sculpture Garden in Seggiano, and San Giovanni d'Asso's Bosco delle Ragnaie, to name but a few art pit stops that lie along the way through the Tuscan hills. 

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