If You Ever Find Yourself in Italy…Tarot in Milan by Arnell Ando
Italy is an enchanting place full of art treasures and historical gems too numerous to mention. In this article, I would like to discuss three places that are especially relevant to Tarot enthusiasts. I highly recommend visiting all of them if you ever find yourself in Milan.
Thanks to the late Brian Williams, who had conducted Tarot and art history tours to various locations in Italy, I’ve come under the spell of lovely Italia. I have just arrived home from another stopover in Milan, and am determined to put pen to paper while all is still fresh in my mind and I can smell the aroma of espresso in my cup.
Not far from Milan’s central station can be found the Visconti Castle (aka: Sforzesco Castello). Tarot scholars will no doubt recognize this as the birthplace of Tarot. The Visconti royal family commissioned the artist Bonifacio Bembo to create the earliest known Tarot deck around 1450. This castle, where remnants of the ancient Visconti deck were found in an abandoned well, now houses an impressive collection of art and historical artifacts well worth checking out. Admission is free and there is an information desk where the clerk can speak some English. I noticed they do not make any specific mention of the castle’s early connection to tarot and in fact you are not apt to see the original Tarot cards here but rather you can view them under glass in a museum in the nearby town of Bergamo. I believe the museum is called Museo Adriano Bernareggi but here is my ticket stub for your consideration. Among the other great artworks on display, you will find the original Visconti Tarot cards. They also have a gift shop with cool Visconti Tarot postcards and postage stamps for those looking for souvenirs for Tarot buddies back at home.
Another place I highly recommend to Tarot lovers is within walking distance to Milan’s central station. It is the Tarot and art workshop of Osvaldo Menegazzi. You may recognize that name from the numerous Tarot decks that he designs and/or publishes. It’s an impressive contribution too immense to mention in this brief article but here are a few examples that in no way represent his vast collection. Osvaldo’s decks often carry the distinguishing style of lovely boxes, often with a significant card fasted by hand to the box cover, or pretty tie ribbons for boxes that open from the side, and of course his signature wax seals. There are shelves filled with a tantalizing assortment of beautifully packaged decks, posters of uncut Tarot sheets for sale as well as some watercolors and silk screens numbered and signed. Osvaldo also creates fantastic shadow boxes, which are on display all around the shop. My eyes were filled with wonder looking at all these handcrafted boxes containing intricate collages of esoteric art. Osvaldo does not speak English but his gracious hospitality transcends language barriers. He is an artist who obviously loves his work and is enthusiastic about sharing with those of us who can make the trek. The shop name is Il Meneghello Tarocchi and can be found at Via Fara, 15, Milano, Italy. To call, (if dialing from the US, the country code is 39 and you drop the first ‘0’ in the following number. If dialing within Milan you shouldn’t need the first two digits ‘02,’ which are the city area code) Phone 02/6703185 Fax number 02/66987568.
There are some Tarot shops near the Duomo (Cathedral) in Milan; my favorite is the Libreria Esoterica. You can also often find Tarot decks in Tobacco shops. Italy is filled with so much beauty and romance, not to mention the delectable foods and wines and I think you will be pleasantly surprised to find Tarot in the most unlikely of places…
The late tarot historian and artist extraordinaire Brian Williams used to conduct art history tours of Italy. He initially introduced all of these places to me and for that I am forever grateful to him.
Arnell Ando is the artist and author of Transformational Tarot and the Hero's Journey Tarot. She also illustrated the Storyteller Tarot written by Diane Wilkes. She is a Certified Tarot Grand Master who gives wonderfully inspiring workshops all over the country on creating your own tarot. She has a Master's degree in Counseling Psychology and is a certified Expressive Arts Therapist.
Article and photographs © 2001 Arnell Ando
Art and shadowboxes © 2000/2001 Osvaldo Menegazzi
Page © 2001 Diane Wilkes