Fontanellato near Parma in Italy is home to the largest labyrinth in the world. The maze has taken eight years to construct and is scheduled to open to the public later this year.
The labyrinth covers more than 17 acres (7 hectares) at the countryside manor home of publisher, art collector and bibliophile Franco Maria Ricci. It consists of a mix of 120,000 species of bamboo that edge almost 2 miles (3 km) of pathway. The star-shape labyrinth has a building complex at its centre that includes facilities to house Ricci’s art collection of 500 works dating from the 16th to 20th century, as well as a library devoted to graphic design and typography.
Ricci first dreamed of building a maze decades ago, after his friend Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges visited his house near Parma. Borges was fascinated by the idea of labyrinths and his enthusiasm infected Ricci, who regards his maze as symbolic of man’s journey through life, “ignorance to enlightenment”. The publisher has constructed a labyrinthine cultural park designed by architects Pier Carlo Bontempi and Davide Dutto.
Ricci has produced a book to celebrate the maze’s completion. Called ‘Labyrinths: The Art of the Maze’, the photo book chronicles the labyrinth’s development, as well as the art and mystery of mazes throughout the ages. The book includes a forward by author and semiotician Umberto Eco.