I Tarocchi Della
by Morena Poltronieri and Ernesto Fazioli;
Illustrated by Laura Verzellesi
Review by Diane Wilkes
It was bound to happen, but I didn't expect I Tarocchi Della Luna to be the deck to put me over the edge. This Major Arcana deck is actually two Major Arcana decks, with each set of cards being artistically very similar, but quite different in feel. And the subtle permutations of these cards intrigue me, make me wonder exactly what was on the mind of the decks' creators', to the point where I now must start learning Italian, in order to get to the bottom of the mystery. The companion book, needless to say, is in Italian only, and my desire to decipher it has overwhelmed my almost-equal desire to not have to undertake a new course of study. It's almost 150 pages, and I'm sure each one contains a gem I need to know. Badly.
I wonder how you say "badly" in Italian.
Fortunately, there are some things I can figure out for myself. Look at these two similar Fools. Both stand in the same position, ready to seek their fortunes with joyous insouciance. But the first card's Fool might have a harder path to follow--his cliff is made of jagged rock; it's not a hill of gentle grass, and his companion animal is a biting crocodile, not a meek bunny.
But which card is the "Luna" version and which the "Sola"--I'm guessing that's the approach the decks' creators have taken. My inclination would be to say that the "Luna" version is that of the hidden, dangerous animal, but it's hard to say. The Sun cards are particularly confusing. The first shows a happy sun shining its nurturing face on two equally happy, dancing lovers. The sun has also been beneficent to the healthy grassy earth and flowers that encircle the couple. The second version shows an angry sun that burns and consumes the land (and what were probably people) beneath his spiky red rays.
Which is the Luna version of this card? Inquiring minds want to know.
But since this inquiring mind goes without benefit of knowing Italian, it continues to inquire.
The Temperance cards show the same image, but the first is almost identical to the traditional card, except that instead of standing in water, the angel stands on green grass. The second version shows Temperance in the Snow (sounds like an Avon lipstick). She stands on ice, and her alchemical blend is frozen solid. The Hermit pairings both show a hooded recluse, completely masked, but one holds his lantern; the other has dropped it.
The pair of Strength cards may be my favorite. The first is traditional--a young, gentle woman taming the lion to do her bidding. The permutation card is a literal reversal--the lion is sanguine and standing astride his victim. The first time I saw it, I literally laughed out loud. It makes me happy just to look at it.
Not only can the turn of events be funny, the elegance of the art, the lovely blending of the colors and the cleverness of the artistry all combine to make the Tarocchi Della Luna one of the most charming and engaging decks I own.
I must tell you about one more pairing, and then I'll move on. The first (solar?) horned Devil stands on his raised platform, to which a male and female couple are yoked on separate sides. The Lunar version shows that same couple...coupling upon a bed of fire--the Devil remains in the same exact position, moving from the position of controller to lecherous observer or true, suffering denizen of Hell. Take your pick.
The deck backs are reversible and consist of a design of an odd combination of bird-worms. Justice is VIII and Strength is XI. The cards measure 5" x 2 1/2," tall and elegant.
I was able to obtain this deck through the kind graces of Argeo Maccagli from Alida. I don't know if he can get more of them, but this glorious, thought-provoking deck deserves your seeking it out. The price was $26 plus shipping for the deck and book, if memory serves, which seems to me a very reasonable price for this deck. It would be even more of a bargain if I could speak Italian and actually read the book...which is another good reason for me to learn the language.
I recommend it to collectors, fans of Majors-Only decks, and those who are looking for something both striking and different.
I Tarocchi Della Luna by Morena Poltronieri and Ernesto Fazioli;
Art by Laura Verzellesi
Publisher: Atman Editions