Vitali, Andrea

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Tarot contribution

Andrea Vitali is instrumental in establishing the (Italian-based) Cultural Trust for Historical Studies and Research "Le Tarot" and is been involved in the organisation of tarot exhibits. But his main contribution to Tarots remains his specific and documented iconographical approach.

He sees the Trumps sequence as a Mystical Staircase
"From the first known list of Tarots, of the beginning of the Sixteenth Century, it is evident that Tarot was an ethical game. The Magician shows a common man who has been provided with both temporal guides (the Emperor and Empress) and spiritual guides (the Pope and Popess, i.e. Faith). Human instincts themselves must be mitigated by the virtues: Love by Temperance, and the desire for power (the Cart of Triumph) by Fortitude.

The Wheel of Fortune teaches us that success is ephemeral and that even great men are destined to become dust: thus the Hermit who follows the Wheel represents Time, to which all beings are subjectto and the necessity for each man to meditate on the real value of life, while the Hanged Man (The Traitor) depicts the danger of falling in temptation and sin before the arrival of the physical Death.

Even the afterlife is represented according to the typical medieval idea: Hell, and thus the Devil, stands at the centre of the earth, while the celestial spheres are above earth. According to the Aristotelian vision of the cosmos, the terrestrial sphere is surrounded by celestial fires which in the Tarots are represented as lightning striking a Tower. The planetary spheres are synthesized in three main planets: Venus (the pre-eminent Star), the Moon, and the Sun. The highest star is the Empyrean, the seat of the angels who will be summoned to awaken the dead from their tombs at the Last Judgement - when divine Justice will triumph in weighing the souls and dividing the good from the evil. Highest of all is the World, or the Holy Father, as an anonymous Dominican commentator on the Tarots wrote at the end of the 15th century.

The same author places the Fool after the World, as if to illustrate his complete alienation from all rules and teachings, since, because of his lacking reason, it was not able to understand the revealed truths. The thought of the Scholasticism, that aimed to confirm the truths of faith through the use of reason, united in this category all those people who didn’t believe in God, even if able to reason. In Tarots the presence of the Fool has therefore a further and deeper sense: the Fool, in its meaning of not believer in God but reasoning one, had to become, through the teachings expressed by the Mystical Staircase, Fool of God."


Iconologist, Chairman of Le Tarot Association Born on the 2nd of March 1952 in Faenza (Ravenna - Italy), graduated in classical studies at the University of Bologna, after a post-graduate degree in musicology, Andrea Vitali attended the School of Archivist, Palaeography and Diplomacy at the State Archives in Bologna.

After many years of teaching and after having being director of a public library, he studied Medieval and Renaissance symbolism and iconology, his greatest fields of interest since always, with a particular attention to religious festivities and triumphal procession structure.

In 1984, he founded the Cultural Association “Le Tarot”, an organism aimed at studies and historical research on hermetic and symbolic disciplines and composed of University teachers and international academics.

As President of the Association Le Tarot he took care, with the historian Giordano Berti, of the historical-scientific plans of the most important exhibitions held in Italy and Europe about the symbolic universe of the tarots. (Este Castle, Ferrara, 1987-1988; Archaeological Museum, Bologna, 1995; St. Angelo Castle National Museum, Rome, 1996; Public Palace (Good Govern Palace), Siena, 2006; House of Mantegna, Mantua, April 1987; Inquisitor’s Palace, Vittoriosa (Malta), 2006, etc. Known as an authority on historical tarots iconography by the international scientific community, he published several essays about iconology, translated in six languages, which are considered an essential documents for a historical-allegoric comprehension of Triumphs.

Andrea Vitali gave lectures on medieval symbolism and allegorical iconology of Triumphs in many university in Italy and abroad. On September 1995 he was invited to participate as lecturer by the International Playing-Card Society and by the Guildhall Library in London for the congress about Triumph playing-cards in relation to medieval symbolism about the Holy Bible, the surviving of ancient gods during the Middle Ages and Renaissance and the Hermetic thought.

In his Origines et Histoire du Tarot published in 1997(1), Alain-Jacques Bougearel wrote about him “A ma connaissance, Andrea Vitali est, de tous les tarologues contemporains, le medieviste le plus pertinent” (page 21-22).

He worked as a symbolism consultant for the movie about tarots The Raimbow’s Thief directed by Alejandro Jodorowski, with Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif, designated by the Italian distributor.

His essays and scientific contributions have been published by Nuova Alfa Editoriale; Electa; Le Tarot; Il Meneghello; Martina Editions; Lo Scarabeo.

Many times he participated as a guest to Italian television broadcasts, talk shows and other programmes both on public and private networks:

Pronto è La Rai? Rai Uno

Dove sono I Pirenei? Rai Tre

Maurizio Costanzo Show Canale 5

Cronaca in Diretta Rai Due

Società e Costume Rai Due

Speciale Tg1 Rai Uno

Borders Italia Uno

Libri in Onda Rai International

His interviews, articles and contributions appeared on daily-weekly newspapers and specialized magazines well-known both in Italy and abroad: Panorama, L’Europeo, Gioia, Famiglia Cristiana, Oggi, Grand Hotel, Capital, Historia, Il Piacere, Zoom, Ciga Hotel Magazine, Italy Italy, Illustrazione Italiana, La Repubblica, Il Resto del Carlino, Il Sole 24 Ore, La Stampa, Il Corriere della Sera, Il Messaggero, Haagsche Courant, Suddeutsche Zeitung, etc.


In addition to the following works, Andrea Vitali has written more than one hundred articles published in historical-scientific journals, in national and European weeklies and dailies. He contributes to Secreta, a monthly magazine of hermetic and mystery culture (Olimpia Editions)


Different iconographic discoveries made by Professor Andrea Vitali, concerning the card of the Hanged Man and the Tower (House of Devil - House of God), have been introduced by himself in 1987 in the occasion of the exposure The Cards of Court. Tarots. Game and Magic in the Estense Court, the greatest exhibition about Tarots of international level made in Ferrara near the Estense Castle and in the circumstance of the exposure Tarots: Art and Magic (Cards: Temperance, Stars, Moon, Sun, World) shown up in Bologna near the Archaeological Civic Museum in 1994, exposures edited by professor Andrea Vitali for what concerns the historical-scientific project and the documentary selection. Together with the iconographic essays, presented here complete with reference to the 22 Triumphs, there are other essays on tarots of the XVI and XVII Centuries and articles on topics of symbolic nature.


The Association “Le Tarot” conducted its researches for more than twenty-five years and has collected to date a wide range of artistic and historical works about Tarot and other matters. Now its Collections, structured in form of exhibitions, are available to whoever requires them.

Exhibition(s) about Tarots :
An International Exhibition Tarots: History Art Magic

The Cards of Court. Tarots Game and Magic at the Este Court Ferrara, Este Castle, September 1987 - January 1988 [1]

Tarots: The Cards of Destiny Rome St. Angelo Castle National Museum February 5 - April 4, 1996 [2]

Tarots : Art and Magic Bologna, Catania, Siene, Archaeological MuseumbDecember 16, 1994 - February 14, 1995 [3]

Mantua and the Mantegna Tarots House of Mantegna, Mantua, April 1987 [4]

Tarots: The Real Cards Turin, Barolo Palace, April 24 - May 25, 1997 [5] The Cards of Destiny Gambling, Luck and Magic Vittoriosa (Malta), Inquisitor’s Palace 17 June 2006 - 29 October 2006 [6]

Tarots of Gianmaria Potenza The mysterious origin of the tree of life Venice, Local Harbour Superintendence, May 18 - June 18, 1990 [7]


1.Books about Tarots

Il Castello dei Tarocchi / The Castle of Tarots. Edition in Italian language, Lo Scarabeo Editions, Turin, 2010. Edited by Andrea Vitali (Articles by Giordano Berti, Alain Bougearel, Franco Cardini, Ross Sinclair Caldwell, Thierry Depaulis, Gerardo Lonardoni, Alberto Milano, Lothar Tekemeier, Giovanni Tesio, Bepi Vigna, Andrea Vitali, Girolamo Zorli).

Tarots: History, Art, Magic, from the 15th to 20th Century / Tarocchi: Storia, Arte, Magia, dal XV al XX Secolo. Edited by Giordano Berti and Andrea Vitali. Bilingual editions in Italian and English, Le Tarot Editions, Faenza, 2006.

Il Tarocchino di Bologna. Storia, Iconografia, Divinazione. Dal XV al XX secolo / . Tarocchino of Bologna. History, Iconography, Prophecy. From the 15th - 20th Century Edition in Italian language, Martina Editions, Bologna, 2005, ISBN 88-7572-024-X

Visconti-Sforza Tarots. Milan - 15th Century / I Tarocchi Visconti-Sforza, Milano - XV Secolo'. Bilingual editions in Italian and English, Il Meneghello Editions, Milan, 1996.

Tarocchi: Arte e Magia / Tarots: Art and Magic (edition in Italian language). Edited by Giordano Berti and Andrea Vitali. 'Essay: L’Iconografia dei tarocchi (Iconography of Tarots)', Edition in Italian language, Le Tarot Editions, Faenza, 1994.

I Tarocchi di Gianmaria Potenza. Le arcane radici dell’Albero della Vita / Gianmaria Potenza’s Tarots - The mysterious origins of the Tree of Life. Essay: 'La vera favola dei tarocchi (The real fable of the Tarots)'. Edition in Italian language, Electa Editions, Milan, 1990, ISBN 88-435-3200-6

Le Carte di Corte. I Tarocchi. Gioco e Magia alla Corte degli Estensi / The Court Cards. Tarot Cards. Game and Magic at the Este Court. Edited by Giordano Berti and Andrea Vitali. Edition in Italian language, Nuova Alfa Editoriale, Bologna 1987, ISBN 88-7779-016-4 Essay: 'Arcani Svelati (Unraveled Puzzles)'.

2. Books about other topics

LO SPIRITO DELL'EUROPA. IL RINASCIMENTO DI TERRACOTTA DELLA BOTTEGA DELLA ROBBIA / The Spirit of Europe - The Renaissance-style in the terracottas of the "Della Robbia" Studio The “Della Robbia” terracottas of the Bandini Collection of Fiesole Museums. (Le Tarot Editions, Faenza, 1999) Essay-catalogue of the exhibition held in 1999 at the Ducal Palace of Andria E. Centofanti - M. Lotti - A. Vitali

IL POPOLO DI MOSÉ. MOSTRA SU CULTURA E CIVILTÀ EBRAICA / Moses’ People - Exhibition about Jewish culture and life (Le Tarot Editions, Faenza, 1998) Edited by Giordano Berti. Essay-catalogue of the exhibition held at Ducal Palace of Andria in 1998.

VIAGGIO NELL'ISLAM. ESOTISMI E REALTÀ / An Overview of the Islamic Religion - Exoticism and reality Essay-catalogue of the exhibition held at the Ducal Palace of Andria in 1987 E. Centofanti - A. Vitali (edited by Le Tarot Editions, Faenza, 1988)


Books on this author