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The Museum in the village of Vigoleno Orsanti

Vigoleno Piacenza, Italy

The Museum is located in the charming village of the Orsanti Vigoleno, in the province of Piacenza.

Collects a unique historical and cultural heritage, the testimonies of life Orsanti, artists, musicians and animal trainers that since the eighteenth century migrated throughout the world, spreading the culture wanders through their own shows.

The Museum was founded in 2001 by Maria Theresa Alps, an eclectic artist par excellence. It 'was the designer of handbags for the European market, signing Donna Esa, then set designer, painter, puppeteer and museografa.

His grandfather, who emigrated to the United States, gave work to many neighbors in its factory of fabric flowers. In the '70s brought his theater, made with some co-workers, in the streets and in the schools of Italy. Staged animal stories, he wrote the plot, which seem to have found an epilogue in the Museum Orsanti, born from a suggestion fiction.
The Orsanti, men who carry their name written in an animal, in fact combine the idea of ​​courage and strength of the bear to the rejection of the existence of the society from which they come.

The bear was mainly used for the animal shows, a notoriously unpredictable and very dangerous animal, then that difficult to attach her to the components of the companies Orsanti seen the continuous exchange of property and animals.

It was especially brown bears, in Emilia-Romagna and Liguria in the animal continued to be present for a certain period, as still in its infancy 's 800 the Orsanti sought in the woods "oaks bear", that the trees reported that the scratches inflicted by the bear after hibernation or at least the winter.

On the other hand, in the central Alps and the bear was never extinguished, and indeed, luckily and thanks to the reintroduction of man, is returning to increase.
The plantigrades used by Orsanti had to be coming mostly from abroad, particularly from the Balkans.

The custom of exhibiting bears and other animals in exhibitions of the country, still exists in the Balkans and in various Asian regions. The outbreak of war in the former Yugoslavia has caused, among other things, the loss of many bears to quieter areas. A good number of these animals that colonized the eastern part of Italy and the movement continues.

Looking elsewhere for that which did not give their land, the inhabitants of the northern Apennines were propagated not only in Europe but in the peninsula and beyond.

Among them was around, walking vendors ink, buttons, passed off as miraculous ointments, soaps, candles and much more.
The so-called "rogues" preferred duped people pretending to be priests, devotees, saints and so on, speculating on the credulity and the misfortunes of the people.

The comedians were instead shows in the streets, they were musicians, puppeteers, rare animals exhibited or trained and everything could amaze.
The larger companies, which had bears and camels, were quite similar to the great circus families. These were usually called Orsanti. The Comedians in the majority came from the valleys of the Taro and Ceno from Vernasca, Morfa and Lugagnano.

All of these professions ceased at the beginning of the 900 because of the new strict laws against child exploitation and the advent of new professions walking more profitable and safer, especially abroad: ice cream, sellers of fish and chips, roasters.

In the first half of the nineteenth century among the musicians wandering there were many players of the hurdy-gurdy, an instrument probably transmitted from the French regions.
Hurdy-gurdy and accordion are often found in the hands of so-called "man orchestra", which by themselves were using multiple tools simultaneously with an orchestral effect.

The portraits of the musicians show us that on his shoulders holding up a bass drum, often equipped with dishes and triangle which was beaten with a mallet attached to a forearm. Through a shoulder argued that an accordion played with the hands, while the head wore hats that were hung metal bells.

The development and dissemination of mechanical musical instruments, especially in the second half of the nineteenth century, allowed the wanderers to use smaller tools and practical. Especially popular were the barrel organs, small organs consist of a series of rods connected to the bellows fitted with a spiked cylinder: turning the crank start to move the bellows and rotating the cylinder.

The vagrants were forced to long absences from home and could revise their wives and children, even after years. Many did not come back and the rest of the wives could not even groped to find them since then the passport was granted to his wife only with the consent of her husband.
Life was hard, and large families with many mouths to feed. They lived in stone houses, rustic and exclusively functional, no frills, with windows and small rooms.
To groped to fight off bad luck, hail, pests or drought, it felt like everything, processions, prayers, the ringing of bells.
The potatoes, the harvest of which was enough to feed for a few months, supplemented the production of wheat and corn, but sometimes not reached maturation and therefore it is purchased with the proceeds from the plains of seasonal or it is exchanged with the grain.

In 700 the authorities, realizing that the trades were caused by periodic wandering peasant emigration motivated by poverty, tried to make it in good part as possible.
In fact these people emigrated abroad especially freeing the country from the poor and also helping the economically their families at home He brought hard currency.

Despite this, the authorities decreed that those who intended to exercise the profession of haberdasher, Organ Player or exhibitor of animals should undergo a medical examination to assess their inability to work hard, instead deemed lawful.

If deemed unfit receiving a driver's license, valid, however, only for the province.

The city, rich and populous, squares, fairs and festivals were the favorite destinations of travelers, were rascals, comedians or other, which often came in droves from all preparing their performances of acrobats, jugglers, singers, musicians and animal trainers.
To perform overseas was necessary of course to be in possession of valid passport and a certificate of good conduct. But the wanderers were often accused of theft and to give scams.

The misery of the rest of it was often the cause and work of the authorities was often ambiguous, stretched on either side to restrict the movement of people at risk, and the other tending to give these people elsewhere to find better living conditions, which however, there were no on-site.

The Museum is a trip into a reality that belongs to our tradition: the great bears of paper, unusual musical instruments, costumes, prints, paintings, documents and objects from daily life perfectly describe the atmosphere experienced by these artists.
Thanks to the passion and determination of Maria Theresa Alps, there is now a priceless heritage, unique, closely linked to the reality of migration and issues such as sharing, tolerance, contamination, creativity, traditions.

The Museum of the Orsanti is a special destination to relive a past that unites us all.




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