Out in the countryside near Parma, Italy, you’ll find the world’s largest labyrinth – Mason’s Labyrinth, or Labirinto della Masone.
It’s set on the property of Franco Maria Ricci, a famous designer, and editor from Parma. Onsite, you’ll also find Ricci’s personal art collection, temporary art exhibits, a restaurant, and a café.
Mason’s Labyrinth isn’t a tourist ‘destination’ but it’s an excellent stop if you’re in the area, especially if you’re traveling with kids.
Mason’s Labyrinth – the world’s largest labyrinth:
- Was designed by Franco Maria Ricci and Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges (after he became blind)
- Has a path about 3 kilometers long
- Is made with over 200,000 bamboo plants, of many different types
- Covers about 8 hectares (80,000m2, or about 20 acres)
- Ends at a pyramid, which houses a chapel
Our family loved walking through the labyrinth together, seeing it from above from the lookout tower, and spending time perusing Ricci’s interesting and unusual art collection.
Here’s the scoop on visiting – logistics, what you’ll find at the Labirinto della Masone, and some recommended things to do nearby.
Fun Fact: Mason’s Labyrinth isn’t technically a labyrinth – it’s a maze. What’s the difference between a labyrinth and a maze? A labyrinth has one path that will lead you to the center, while a maze may have many branches or ‘dead ends’ and the end of the path isn’t necessarily in the center. At Mason’s Labyrinth, you finish in the center, but there are plenty of ‘dead ends’ where you can get lost!
Where is Italy’s Largest Labyrinth?
Mason’s Labyrinth (Labirinto della Masone) is located in central Italy, in the Emilia-Romagna Region. It’s set in the countryside of Fontanellato, just west of Parma.
How to Get to the Labirinto della Masone, the World’s Largest Maze
The easiest way to reach the Mason Labyrinth is by car. It’s not far from the A1 Autostrada.
If you’re coming from the direction of Modena, take the Parma Ovest exit, pay your toll, and take the smaller roads to the labyrinth in Fontanellato. If you’re coming from the direction of Milan, take the Fidenza/Salsomaggiore Terme exit, pay your tolls, and head towards the labyrinth in Fontanellato.
When you get closer, you’ll start seeing brown signs for ‘LABIRINTO’ with an icon of the labyrinth.
There is a parking lot in front of the labyrinth entrance.
If you’re planning on driving in Italy, check out our posts on:
Renting a Car in Italy
Italian Gas Stations and Getting Gas in Italy
Important Italian Road Signs
Driving in Italy
International Driving Permit for Italy
Renting a Car in Italy with a US Driver’s License
Italian Toll Roads – Driving on the Autostrada
Paying Tolls in Italy
Parking in Italy + Parking Sign Translations
By Public Transport
It’s not easy to arrive at Labirinto della Masone by public transport, but it can be done! It’s best to first get to Parma (by bus or train), and then take the bus from Parma to Sanguinaro (2.3 km from the labyrinth). From Sanguinaro, walk the 2.3 km on small roads (keep in mind that there will be cars driving to the labyrinth).
Tickets and Entering the World’s Largest Maze
Tickets and Opening Hours
You can find the most up-to-date info on the official website.
Good To Know: If you’ve got a set time you’d like to visit, book online. You must reserve an entry time. If you wait and buy your tickets on arrival, you may need to wait to enter.
World’s Largest Maze – Logistics
After you buy your tickets in the bookshop, you enter the lower part of the museum where you’re given a bracelet, which has the phone number of the office (so you can call if you need help). I also recommend taking a photo of the map on display so you can reference it if you need to (shh – we did!).
Then, you walk outside to the labyrinth entrance! But, before you begin, you can walk up to the lookout tower. It’s a nice opportunity to see the gorgeous bamboo labyrinth from above. You can see what the labyrinth path looks like, and what the pyramid looks like (your end goal).
Walking Through Mason’s Labyrinth
What it’s Like Inside the World’s Biggest Maze
Il Labirinto della Masone isn’t a typical labyrinth with hedges up to your waist or armpits. The tall bamboo hedges tower over you! You can see through some of them into the walkway to the right or left.
There is artwork scattered throughout the maze – hanging overhead, in small ‘piazzas’, and as doorways.
There are different species of bamboo, including Phyllostachys bissetii, Phyllostachys vivax “Aureocaulis” and Phyllostachys Aureasulcata “Spectabilis.”
How Long Does it Take to Walk Through Mason’s Labyrinth?
We were told to allow an hour for the maze and another 30-60 minutes for the art collection, for a total visit of 1.5 – 2 hours.
Our family ended up spending 2 hours on the property – one hour in the labyrinth, another 30 minutes checking out Ricci’s art collection, and 30 minutes doing miscellaneous things like using the toilet, climbing the lookout tower, and perusing the gift shop.
Visiting Franco Maria Ricci’s Private Art Collection
After you visit the maze (or before, if you prefer), walk back into the building where you got your bracelet and head up the stairs to Ricci’s private art collection.
The works you see are from over 50 years of collecting. There are plenty of the typical and expected paintings, sculptures, and marble busts, but there are also some quirky and interesting works – a codex, a lion painting, a wall of skull paintings, art with narwhal tusks, and a wooden model of the Milan Duomo.
Even if you’re not typically interested in art, you’ll probably find something that catches your eye in Ricci’s collection.
Good To Know: To exit the museum, return the way you came, and back down the stairs.
Good To Know: There’s a toilet next to the wooden Milan Duomo model.
Visiting Mason’s Labyrinth with Kids
Visiting Mason’s Labyrinth is a blast for kids of all ages. Babies can chill in the stroller on the paved paths, walking toddlers can explore the maze and the bamboo, and older kids can be the navigators!
It’s a breath of fresh air (literally, from the bamboo) from visiting historical sites or sitting in the car. Our kids loved running around and having an ‘adventure’ in the maze.
Tips for visiting Mason’s Labyrinth with children:
- Be sure to climb the lookout tower before you begin the maze. It’s an amazing viewpoint of what you’re about to walk through.
- Have kids use the toilet before entering the maze.
- Look up different types of bamboo before you visit the labyrinth. Or, look them up after and see if you recognize any of them. We had no idea there were so many different types of bamboo!
- Take advantage of the benches in the labyrinth and rest if you need to.
- Check out Ricci’s art collection. Our kids were fascinated by the skull paintings (but skip them if they’re not for your family!), the lion painting by Ligabue, and the model of the labyrinth.
- You can bring a stroller or a carrier if you’re traveling with a baby. The labyrinth is stroller-friendly, and there’s an elevator that brings you to the upper floor of the museum.
Things to Do Near Mason’s Labyrinth
Modena – Climb the Ghirlandina Tower; visit the lively Albinelli market. Read more in our Guide to Visiting Modena with Kids!
Bologna – Italy’s foodie heaven is nearby! Stop in to dine on tagliatelle al ragù or tortellini in brodo, climb a tower, and stroll the porticoes. Read more in our guides, Visiting Bologna with Kids and How to Spend 2 Days in Bologna!
Dozza – Active kids who enjoy the labyrinth will love running around the small village of Dozza spotting their favorite colorful murals. As a bonus, there’s a dragon in the Dozza castle! Dozza is between Bologna and Ravenna (so not exactly next door to the labyrinth), but worth a stop if you’ll be in the area.
You may want to check out Emilia-Romagna with Kids!
Is Mason’s Labyrinth a corn maze?
No, Mason’s Labyrinth is made up of towering bamboo hedges.
Is Mason’s Labyrinth near the Labyrinth of Villa Pisani?
No, the Villa Pisani Labyrinth is over 2.5 hours away by car, close to the northern Italian city of Padua.