About 90 minutes outside of Rome, near the small town of Capalbio, Italy, sits a kaleidoscope of colorful whimsy called the Tarot Garden, or in Italian, Il Giardino dei Tarocchi. The Tarot Gardens consists of 22 monuments of grand propensity, stretched across several acres of land, representing the major Arcana deck of Tarot Cards.
The sculptures themselves were created using steel and then covered with ceramics, colored glass and mirrors. These monuments were designed and created by the genius of artist Niki de saint Phalle.
In the mid 1950’s, Niki discovered the work of artist Antoni Gaudi. She was especially moved by Guell Park in Barcelona and several years later had a vision to create something similar.
The idea for Niki de Saint Phalle’s Tarot Gardens was incepted in the mid 1970’s and took nearly twenty years to complete. The Tarot Gardens are meant to be played in, climbed on and walked through. One visit will have you so awestruck that you will want to make it a point to go back. A day trip to the Tarot Gardens is definitely one to go on your travel bucket list.
Getting to the Tarot Gardens:
There is a tremendous amount of confusion on the internet regarding how or if you can get to the Tarot Gardens from Rome without a car.
If you have a car, or coming from a different area other than Rome, the Tarot Garden website itself offers these DRIVING directions:
Get More Info
And if you DO NOT have a car, then YES YOU CAN get there via public transportation. You would have to take a train, as well as a taxi, so make sure you read through this part carefully!
Directions to the Tarot Gardens from ROME via TRAIN:
Catch the train at the Roma Termini train station. The top floor of the train station has been completely redone and hosts the BEST of the BEST boutique food court. THIS IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW because you WILL WANT TO BRING FOOD WITH YOU ON THIS TRIP. A couple prosciutto sandy’s will go a long way. And chances are you will not eat again until you return to this train station.
For around 16 Euro (roughly $22 US dollars), you can purchase a round trip ticket to Capalbio here at Roma Termini Train Station. YES! The exit you want to get off is CAPALBIO!! Depending on age, most of the kids are allowed to ride the train for free. However, a train ride alone will NOT get you to the garden. Once you arrive at the train station in Capalbio, you can do one of two things:
1. Go into the little bar next to the station and ask the bartender to provide the number for a taxi. I would HIGHLY suggest translating this question to paper BEFORE you arrive, if you don’t speak Italian.
2. Or if you walk a few feet through the lot, you will see a bus hub. NEXT to the bus hub, is a sign that says RENATO TAXI.
There is a phone number on this sign: 366 3922147
Thankfully, I had the international plan on my cell phone and was able to call this number. (But I’m fairly certain the friendly people at the bar will allow you to use their phone if you give them some change. Again, if this is what you need to do, then have your question in Italian written on a piece of paper first to make things easier.) Sure enough, Renato himself answered my call and in Italian, said he will come and pick us up in 10 minutes.
I took this trip solo with my 5 year old daughter so I had to listen to my gut. BEFORE I got in the taxi, I took a photo of his license plate and registration and chatted with Renato a bit. Keep in mind, the car will NOT say taxi or be bright yellow. It will look like an ordinary car. No bright pink mustache or letters, no UBER symbol. In fact, NEITHER APP will work here.
I then negotiated a price for the ride, which was around $10 one way. When we arrived to the Tarot Garden, Renato said that most people stay for about 1.5 hours. Since I was traveling with my 5 year old daughter, who already had spied an ice cream stand situation at the far end of a vast parking lot, I told him to pick us up in 2.5 hours.
Right on TIME, Renato picked us up (at the ice cream stand of course) and took us back to the train station. DON’T WORRY IF YOU HAVE NOT PURCHASED YOUR TICKET BACK TO ROME YET. The trains run often and you can buy your ticket from an automated machine at the station. Plus, you will be happy to sit at the bar and have a couple snacks and a cold beer.
While we were sitting there, I got to know some of the locals who jumped at the chance to practice their English on us. And the people in the bar were extremely friendly. There is nothing but small town friendly vibes going on here in Capalbio.
The train came about an hour after we arrived to the Capalbio train station. Roma Termini is the last stop on the way back to Rome, so if you wanted to fall asleep, you can! And remember that newly renovated food court on the top floor of the train station? It will welcome you with open arms. Dinner in Rome never looked so good. A day trip to The Tarot Gardens is a fabulous adventure!
Tarot Garden's Website