Harlequin House Museum

discover the history of commedia dell’arte and the origin of the famous mask

Opening Hours

 

January 2024

Saturday and Sunday10:00 – 12:00 and 14:30 – 17:30

 

The Harlequin House Museum is located inside Palazzo Grataroli in the village of Oneta and is owned by the Municipality of San Giovanni Bianco. The name “Harlequin House“, by which the village’s stately palace is commonly known, is linked to the Renaissance actor Alberto Naselli, who portrayed the Zanni and Harlequin in major European courts and who, according to tradition, stayed in this palace, even though there are no documentary sources to prove this. The House stores a selection of masks of commedia dell’arte characters and has hosted, since 2015, a stable puppet theater of the 
Il Riccio Company
, in which short stories are staged during school tours and special events.
The Museum also hosts educational workshops and guided tours along the Via Mercatorum organized with the Mercatorum and Priula Cultural Polo

The building that now houses the museum is of medieval origin and probably had a defensive function for the village, located along the Via Mercatorum.
It became a stately home between the 15th and 17th centuries, when it was purchased and renovated by the powerful local Grataroli family, who boasted great wealth acquired in Venice. They also brought the local architectural taste: their palace is the only example of Venetian architecture in the Brembana Valley. The Grataroli family had the house decorated with valuable frescoes, which can still be seen today upon entering the great hall: the Picta Room.
The frescoes, datable to the second half of the 15th century, testify to the rise of the family through the intercession of healing saints linked to popular devotion and through the depiction of a chivalric tournament where the Grataroli, distinguishable by the presence of a gratarola (a grater) drawn on their shield, defeat their enemies by demonstrating their power to the noble families of the Valley, depicted in the coats of arms that surround the scene.
At the entrance to the palace, however, a fresco depicting a man holding a stick accompanied by the inscription can be seen: Chi no è de chortesia, do not intrigue in my house. Se ge venes un poltron, ghe dare del mio baston. This painting is a representation of the Homo Sevadego, a popular figure widespread in Rhaetian-Alpine communities and a metaphor for man's attachment to his land and his relationship with the cycles of nature.

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