Why is there a Museum dedicated to the Ride right in Bergantino?
In order to give an answer we need to know the territory and its history. The territory.At the western side of the Province of Rovigo, there is the so called "Alto Polesine" that includes Bergantino. This area is right among the Provinces of Verona, Mantua and Ferrara. Therefore we are talking about a boundary land that throughout the centuries has developed some typical peculiarities. From one side, its inhabitants, far from the administrative centres, have always benefit of a sort of autonomy that has allowed them to develop a particular initiative spirit and free enterprise. From the other side, they got used to frequent contacts with different communities, dialects, traditions and habits and they treasured this situation.
The history. Everything started in 1929, the year of the big world-wide crisis. Bergantino suffered a lot from the unstable economic situation of those years. A lot of families were left penniless up to the point of literary suffering from hunger. There was someone who tried to survive with some sort of trade in order to reach a life level that was less precarious, but most of the times it was worthless. In this terrible situation, to emigrate abroad seemed the only working solution. From this point starts the history of the first traveling-show workers from Bergantino, as Umberto Bacchiega (1880-1965) and Umberto Favalli (1891-1983), who were actually bicycle-mechanics.
The amount of work lacked for them, too ; also, their customers would often postpone their payments. So when they saw a ride for the first time, they immediately noticed that people would pay in cash to get on, so the owner of the ride always had guaranteed money at the end of the day. Bacchiega and Favalli decided then to unite their hope, their few economic resources, their knowledge and skills. In April, 1929 at the traditional local funfair, they presented their handcrafted fairground race track: it was a sensational success.
Comforted by this success, the two pioneers left for a new adventure: the history of the traveling show workers and ride constructors of Bergantino started from them. During the 30s, there were about ten other families from Bergantino that followed Bacchiega and Favalli along the squares, inventing a new form of seasonal emigration that allowed them to keep in contact with their country origins. Among them there was also the real pioneer of ride constructors: Albino Protti.
Starting from the post war period, in particular during the 50s, more and more families from Bergantino started this activity of itinerant show workers. In about twenty years they reach the number of 1 hundred itinerant families. A wide room of the Museum is therefore dedicated to their extraordinary life stories.