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Asciano, Italy

Il Bosco della Ragnaia

Stumbling upon this whimsical wooded garden is like stepping into an enchanted forest full of philosophical musings. 

A visit to this peaceful Tuscan park makes you feel as if you’ve stumbled upon an ancient garden that was forgotten long ago. Water features, pathways, gardens, moss-covered plaques, and statuary create a fantasy world for the visitor. Many of the pieces allude to mysticism and magic, making for an enchanting experience.

Artist Sheppherd Craige’s whimsical woodland creation is located just north of the lovely Tuscan town of San Giovanni d’Asso. Though many of the structures may seem ancient, the park was actually created in 1996. It continues to grow and expand along the hillside.

Structures with philosophical musings are scattered beneath the towering oak trees, containing words like “sola ora” (“only now”) and “The trees are coming into leaf / like something almost being said.” There’s also a small pool with a stone saying “aequss animus” (“calm mind”) inlaid in its center, as well as an “altar to skepticism” and a structure called “Oracle of Yourself.”

According to legend, sages once ruled the very woods the park now occupies. Craige, an American artist, incorporated this sense of ancient wisdom into his landscaping and artwork. Frances Lansing, his wife, created the bronze and clay sculptures that dot the woods.

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