In the heart of Ravenna is a charming museum, which is very uncommon and unique.
Just a few steps away from Piazza del Popolo, right in the centre of the city is the HOUSE OF MARIONETTES, guardian of a precious treasure of materials of the Italian tradition of puppet theatre, better known as Collezione Monticelli.
Thanks to its past and recent history, the Monticelli family, of Cremonese-Piedmontese origin, boasts a long dynasty of theatrical performers, starting with its founder Ariodante, who lived in the second half of the 19th century.
A tradition that has continued uninterruptedly for five generations, interpreter of Italian puppet theatre and custodian of marvellous props created by its craftsmen.
The work of recovering and preserving the family’s rich heritage (about 500 pieces) began in 1980, following the retirement of the famous puppeteer Cavalier Otello Monticelli.
The first museum was housed in the former Sala Rinascita, then, the collection was transferred to the Mariani Cinema Theatre and, finally, since 2005, it has had its permanent home in via Padenna, where it still is.
The collection has now become a small museum exhibiting 63 marionettes, 150 puppets, 132 stage sets, 130 handwritten scripts and many other original promotional materials (flyers, letters, announcements, permissions), along with other objects (wooden heads, puppet hands, puppet costumes).
Quite a unique collection!Many of the objects were not just put together by a collector, but were especially created for shows and exhibitions realised by the Monticelli family since the beginning of the 19th century.
Among the oldest pieces is the skeleton puppet, realised in 1850 by Oreste Picchi. The Picchi brothers also made some special puppets known as “divisionist” puppets, because they are divided into five parts. The Fagiolino and Sandrone puppets, typical early 20th-century masks from Emilia, are highly prized by collectors.
The House of Marionettes is not limited to its museum function. It is managed by Teatro del Drago, which keeps the secrets of the traditional theatre and produces theatre performances for adults and children and numerous other artistic and cultural activities, such as workshops for the construction of puppets and marionettes and training courses for educators and teachers.