THE ARCHITECTUREThe buildings in the Labyrinth which house the Franco Maria Ricci Foundation were inspired by the neoclassical architectural utopia of Boullée, Lequeu, Ledoux and Antolini. Designed in keeping with traditional Italian and European tenets, they blend in with the surrounding countryside.

The buildings of Labirinto della Masone were designed by Pier Carlo Bontempi, a high-profile architect from Parma who works on an international level.

Bontempi shares Franco Maria Ricci’s passion for classical forms, with an Italian and European tradition of concluded, definitive works but also of visions and fantasies left suspended, as if awaiting something.

In conceiving the design of the maze, Ricci drew on the mosaics of Roman villas and spas for inspiration. For the masonry, he and Bontempi agreed that the great architects of the French Revolution

would be their reference points. They included Boullée, Ledoux, Lequeu and the Italian Antolini who conceived a visionary design for the Bonaparte Forum in Milan (it was never built, but it has reached our times in the form of a book written by Bodoni).

Whilst with a more low-key approach, Bontempi designed and constructed the walls bearing those dreams, those utopias, in mind.

All the constructions were built using handmade bricks, a material traditionally used in the Po Valley area. The aim was to create harmony between the architectural structures and the surrounding countryside.

Entry Courtyard

The Entry Courtyard welcomes visitors to the Labyrinth.

The area is open to all, and it houses our eateries (Bistro, Café and Store) and the Bookshop which is also the entrance and exit from the Labyrinth.

The Panoramic Tower

The world’s largest labyrinth can be seen from above in all its grandeur.

Access to the Central Courtyard

The Central Courtyard houses the Pyramid, the halls of the Labyrinth and the Suites. Those leaving the Labyrinth find themselves on this square surrounded by pillars.
Many of the major events held in the Labyrinth and attended by thousands of people are staged here.


Central Courtyard at sunset seen from the Pyramid
Central Courtyard at sunset seen from the Pyramid
Detail of the Covered Arcade of the Central Courtyard
Detail of the Covered Arcade of the Central Courtyard

Detail of the entrance to the Central Court

Viale Centrale

The Central Courtryard and the Entrance Courtyard are connected by a causeway, closed by a gate that is opened only in special occasions.

La Corte d’Ingresso e la Corte Centrale sono collegate da un viale, chiuso da un cancello che viene aperto solo in particolari occasioni.


Ispirazioni/I, La città di Palmanova, 1572

Labirinto della Masone is the result of Franco Maria Ricci’s dream, and his experience as a graphic designer, publisher and collector.  Of the  different forms of inspiration  which have enhanced  the design, the layout of Italian Renaissance cities is doubtless one of the most important.
The shape of the city, set out  like an eight-point star – as can be seen in this antique image of Palmanova in Friuli – was designed  to counteract enemy incursions. Star forms multiplied in the sixteenth century, giving rise to the small galaxy of so-called modern style  or Italian-style fortifications, of which Vauban was the undisputed master.

The Pyramid is just one of the universal symbols which characterise the design of Labirinto della Masone. An ancient symbol of faith, this building is actually a chapel and can play host to small concerts which call for an intimate atmosphere and small audiences


Inside the Pyramid, in the heart of his Labyrinth, Franco Maria Ricci has  created  a chapel  as a symbol of Faith. The floor reproduces an ancient single-path labyrinth already used in  many  ancient medieval churches throughout Europe. One of the best-known examples  of this tradition is the labyrinth decorating the floor in Chartres cathedral : it features  eleven circuits, and worshippers would once follow them on their knees whilst praying and singing, as an act of penitence.


Inspirations/II, Claude Louis Châtelet, View of the grounds and the castle of Maupertuis, 1785

In order to create the buildings inside the Labyrinth, , Franco Maria Ricci and architect Pier Carlo Bontempi conducted considerable research. In doing so they often focused on  ancient references   and late eighteenth-century images, particularly those imbued with a utopian dreamlike vision. . The passion  for  ruins, for the romantic remains of ancient civilisations, ,were the defining features of the work of Hubert Robert (1733-1808), outstanding French landscape painter and Claude Louis Châtelet (1753-1795).

Inspirations/II, Claude Louis Châtelet, View of the grounds and the castle of Maupertuis, 1785

Labirinto della Masone is the result of Franco Maria Ricci’s dream, and his experience as a graphic designer, publisher and collector. Four neoclassical visionary architects who lived between the Revolution and the Napoleonic era specifically inspired Franco Maria Ricci and architect Pier Carlo Bontempi in designing the buildings: Boullée, Ledoux, Lequeu and Antolini. All four shared the same fate: most  of their grand projects never actually became real monuments. The drawings include a particularly large number of pyramids designed also as buildings for civil and patriotic celebrations and commemorations, as witnessed in this drawing by Gasse, an architect from the subsequent generation still very much influenced by the style of his predecessors.

Entry to the Pyramid at Dawn
Entry to the Pyramid at Dawn

Corridor to enter the Pyramid

The Pyramid sits on a terrace which affords a raised view of the last section of the Labyrinth, and the Central Courtyard. To reach the Pyramid, visitors cross a corridor which runs alongside three sides of the structure.

The Suites

Behind this discrete and luxurious door lie the Suites of the Labyrinth. These small apartments are designed for those who wish to enjoy the unique experience of a short stay in the heart of the world’s largest labyrinth. Available from Autumn 2016.

The Arcade

Franco Maria Ricci and Pier Carlo Bontempi decided to surround the Central Courtyard of the Labyrinth with an arcade which recalls those traditionally found in some of Italy’s best-known squares.

Inspirations/IV, Étienne-Louis Boullée, Design for a pyramid-form cenotaph for Turenne, 1781-1793

Boullée is  considered the first Western architect to have designed elementary forms on a large scale. His best-known design is the  Cenotaph for  Newton, a sphere which is 150 metres tall. Almost all Boullée’s designs remained on paper and were never executed, yet they have long provided a source of inspiration for architects of  colossal and symbolic buildings (such as labyrinths and pyramids…)

Detail of the edging of the Labyrinth
Detail of the edging of the Labyrinth