What it is and where it is
We are located in Oneta, the ancient Bergamasque village home of the zanni and Harlequin. The so-called "Harlequin House" is actually an old mansion. Following the name given to it by tradition, the House of Harlequin is now a museum that preserves a selection of masks of commedia dell'arte characters and since 2015 has been home to the stable puppet theater of the Compagnia del Riccio.
Why it is special
The building 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. The Grataroli boasted great wealth acquired in Venice. Perhaps because of this, perhaps to set a tone for themselves and distinguish themselves from others, they imported the typical architectural taste of the lagoon city here in Oneta, making their palace the only example of Venetian architecture in the Brembana Valley.
Not to be missed
In its remake on the Venetian model, the house was enriched with valuable frescoes, still visible today upon entering the large hall, the Camera Picta. The frescoes, datable to the second half of the 15th century, testify to the rise of the Grataroli family. They depict a knightly tournament where family members, distinguishable by the "gratarola" (grater) on their shield, defeat their enemies, demonstrating their power to the noble families of the valley, depicted in the coats of arms that surround the scene.
A bit of history
According to tradition, the Renaissance actor Zan Ganassa (born Alberto Naselli), who portrayed the Zanni and Harlequin in major European courts, lived in Grataroli Palace. And it seems that this is why the building still bears the name "Harlequin's House."
A fresco depicting a man with a stick in his hand accompanied by the inscription: Chi no è de chortesia, non intrighi in casa mia. Se ge venes un poltron, ghe dare del mio baston. This painting is a representation ofHomo Selvadego, a popular figure widespread in Rhaeto-Alpine communities and a metaphor for man's attachment to his land and his relationship with the cycles of nature.
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