The Brion Tomb by Carlo Scarpa: a place for reflection


A few kilometers from of Asolo, inside the San Vito di Altivole cemetery, you can admire the Brion Tomb (currently under restoration) by the great architect Carlo Scarpa.  I know, it’s not an happy topic, but I think this particular work by Scarpa is a masterpiece. It is not a single monument but a set of elements (Cappella, Arcosolio, Edicola, Propilei), with names coming form ancient architecture.

Mrs. Onorina Brion Tomasin commissioned it to Scarpa to honor the memory of her beloved husband, Giuseppe Brion, owner of the Brionvega brand. Scarpa worked there between 1970 and 1978, the year in which he died. In his will he requested to be buried here, and in fact his grave is located just outside the Brion tomb (beyond the stone gate to the right of the chapel entrance).

Brion tomb – my experience

This place is both disturbing and relaxing, decadent and modern. The cold and grey cement can give a sense of oppression. At the same time, you can also perceive levity, cause the cement is interrupted by the sight of green grass all around, the water flowing, the presence of fishes and the water lilies in the pond, the opening on the structures which allows you to see landscape and sky. Despite these things conveying a sense of sweet delicacy, precisely because of the greyness and heaviness of the materials, we never forget that we are in a cemetery.
It’s a place of strong symbolism. The apotheosis are the tombs of the two spouses inclined towards each other and the passage along the wall in the shape of two intersecting circles similar to wedding rings.

The idea of Scarpa

The site invites you to meditation and reflection. In particular Scarpa created the bench in the middle of the water lilies pond precisely for this reason: so the visitors could sit and think.

This is the kind of place that can please the admirers of maestro Scarpa, architecture enthusiasts and those who like to reflect on what they see and live. Over the years I brought here a friend, which did not like the place, and this last time my husband, who loved it. So, be aware that the Brion Tomb can cause opposite feelings.

During a lecture in Madrid in 1978, Carlo Scarpa said about the Brion Tomb:

This is the only work of mine that I gladly see
because it seems to me I have conquered the
sense of the countryside, as the Brions wanted.
Everyone goes there with great affection,
the children play, the dogs run.
All the graveyards should be made this way.


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