00029: VALLE BREMBANA; TERRA DI ARLECCHINO, PART I
I’m starting this post with a disclaimer. There is place in the Bergamo region that claims to be “Arlecchino’s House” and also “Arlecchino’s Museum.” This place is known as “Casa Museo di Arlecchino.”
The “house/museum” is located in the village of Oneta (San Giovanni Bianco), in the province of Bergamo. Oneta is located 35 miles north of Bergamo and one can either reach the village in a private car or by bus. By bus it takes 1 hr 40 minutes one way, so the total traveling time is 3 hrs 20 minutes. Because the house/museum is so far away, it is only open for a few hours on specific days and by appointment only.
The house/museum is located inside the Palazzo Grataroli. The palace, who is known by the locals as “Casa di Arlecchio” is linked to the Renaissance actor Alberto Naselli, who represented the Zanni and Arlecchino’s characters in the main European courts, and whom, according to tradition, stay at the Palazzo. However, there are no official documents that support this claim.
The Palazzo is of medieval origin and probably serve as a fort for the village. Between the 15th and 17th centuries, it became a noble residence when the place was bought and renovated by the powerful local “House of Grataroli.” This local family, acquired great wealth in Venice, and when renovating the Palazzo, they gave it a very Venetian look within its architecture and decoration. In fact, the palazzo is the only example of Venetian architecture in the Brembana Valley. The house contains several wall frescoes, still visible today.
Two small rooms are dedicated to Arlecchino, and within them, a selection of commedia dell’arte masks are found. Since 2015, the house/museum hosts a permanent puppet theater led my Compagnia del Riccio, where short scripted stories are presented when school groups, and guided tours are scheduled. The site also serves as an educational center.
Whether this place is or isn’t Arlecchino’s official house, does not matter. What matters is that today, the Palazzo Grataroli is officially known as “La Casa de Arlecchino,” and through time, it has become “the official place.”
Okay, here’s my disclaimer: I did not go to “La Casa di Arlecchino.” During the time I was in Bergamo, I realized that at least five hours of my day would have been needed to travel by bus the 35 miles north of the city, in order to see two small rooms with artifacts that I have seen in other places. On top of that, only a couple of buses are schedule from Bergamo to Oneta and back, and because it is still winter time, the chances of not having secure transportation were always on my mind. So, I didn’t go but I’m aware it exists and I will use this information within my lectures. The images in this post are all from the Casa di Arlecchino Facebook Page.