Dating back to the Middle Ages, the earliest botanical labyrinths soon became a distinctive element of topiary art in the European mansion parks and gardens. Charles the Fifth had a labyrinth built in the gardens of Saint Paul in Paris, whereas Francis the First had one made in the Louise de Savoie park. Charles the Fifth's palaces in Brussels and Seville all feature labyrinths, with a yew-made one that still exists in the gardens of the Alcazar. Later created for secular, recreational purposes, labyrinths had been proliferating from the Renaissance up to the 1700's. Low and basic at first - no more than 2-3 feet high, with a very simple pattern - they became more and more complex with the time - higher hedges, plenty of decoration.
This step of Ballestra's work is particularly inspired by Labirinto della Masone, a maze Franco Maria Ricci has recently built on a ground near Fontanellato, Parma province. Laying on eight hectares, three kms. in length its total path, this labyrinth is made of 5-meter bamboo canes coming from Liguria region and France. This is how Franco Maria Ricci himself describes it: "I discussed labyrinths all my life long - with Italo Calvino, Roland Barthes, Jorge Luis Borges. Borges was obsessed with labyrinths to the point of including one in many of his short stories - such as Tema del traidor y del hèroè, the work Bernardo Bertolucci used for his movie, La strategia del ragno. Borges was a guest in my house for 20 days in the Eighties, my idea of having a real labyrinth built comes from that time".