Atlas Obscura is organizing trips! Join us on an adventure »

Altivole, Italy

Brion Tomb

A visionary Italian architect created an impressive cluster of Brutalist structures for a family's private tomb. 

There’s a harsh built landscape tucked behind a plain-looking Italian cemetery. Grim concrete, clean lines, and sharp shapes define the structures. The small cluster of buildings looks grim and foreboding from its perch atop the earth.

The Brion Tomb, built by visionary Italian architect Carlo Scarpa, draws fans of Brutalist architecture from around the world. Scarpa began working on the tomb in 1969 at the request of Onorina Tomasi Brion, the wealthy widow of the founder of an electronics company called Brionvega.

Scarpa was buried at the site after his untimely death in the 1970s. He, along with the members of the Brion family, now lie beneath this chunk of land, guarded by the stark Brutalist structures he created.

The tomb is open for the public to explore. It’s actually an entire cluster of buildings, rather than just one small house of the dead. There’s a chapel surrounded by a moat, which you can enter via a series of stepping stones. Keep an eye out for the Chinese art adorning its entrance, which adds a touch of softness to the otherwise sharp design.

There’s also a reflecting pool, where lush vegetation pokes through the water’s glassy surface. Near the quiet, tranquil garden, you’ll find the two actual tombs: one for Giuseppe and Onorina Brion, and one for their other family members. It’s here where you’ll also find a white marble marker bearing Scarpa’s name.

Know Before You Go

The site is a tomb and is located on the periphery of an actual cemetery, so absolute discretion and compunction is advised.