The Museo di Arte e Cultura Orientale (MACO) in Arcidosso is a new addition to Maremma's many wonderful museums. Small it may be, but its two floors of vibrant intense colour and glowing gold are a surprise find in Tuscany. Full of Tibetan treasures that will engage and enthrall young eyes and old.
From a private collection of five thousand Tibetan artifacts, nine galleries of art, craftwork, costumes, documents and votives have been created that take you from pre-history in the Himalayas and central Asia, through to its nomadic culture, architecture, language and literature, medicine and astrology, music and dance, visual arts, and Tibetan Buddhism.
Together with a virtual theatre that sweeps you across the Himalayan plains and stories from pre-1950's trips and explorations into the region.
You'll step out of a medieval castle courtyard in Arcidosso into a world more than 6,800 kilometres away. A world still so different from our everyday experiences. And back again.
These are just a few of the exhibits.
You'll find the Museo entrance in an altogether unexpected place: inside the courtyard that is at the foot of Arcidosso's 9th century castle. The Castello Aldobrandesco.
It is housed in what was the castle's Chancery.
Which, itself, has a museum well worth visiting if not only for it's - guided - access to the top of the castle tower (but not on inclement or windy days as was the case when I last went much is the pity) but for its prison cells still complete with wooden slab beds.
Altogether an eerie experience. But the museum is packed with information that will give you a great insight into feudal medieval Maremma in the hill towns around Arcidosso.
The Museo di Arte e Cultura Orientale is open on Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 15:00 to 18:00.
The museum website - http://maco.arcidosso.museum. It has a wonderful Drone video of the rooftops of Arcidosso and the castle.
To complete your visit, drive a short distance out of town to Maremma's tiny Tibet: Merigar. Meaning, "home of the mountain of fire".
Nestled on a foothill of Maremma's volcanic Monte Amiata beneath Mount Labbro, the International Dzogchen Community based here has been an integral part of Arcidosso life since its establishment in 1981.
You'll easily miss the road sign if you aren't actually looking for it, but the narrow lane will take you down and then up a hillside. To a wide open space from which you can see the Temple of Great Contemplation, the Great Stupa, the Zhikhang, and the Serkhang.
Guided tours are possible upon appointment.
The Merigar West website.
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