The mercantile Fair develops in the churchyards, in honour of the patron Saint, and along those streets walked by pilgrims and merchants.
The itinerant shows were born inside the Fair that has become a natuar stage for the street artists throughout the time. (1000-1700)
The fall of the Western Roman Empire (476 AD) brought to the suspension of those amusements that had filled the everyday life of Rome. Since that moment, a long historical period started. It was an age characterised by a static economy and in particular by a political and socila instability due to the so called " barbarian invasions". The "Dark Age" of the Middle Age got illuminated by a gradual recovery starting from the year 1000, when the birth of the free Communes -favoured by the ending of the inavsions and a rediscovered safety- was expression of a new economic vitality.
In this way, the old roman streets that had been abandoned for centuries, became crowded again. Big groups pilgrims walked along them in order to reach the main sanctuaries of that time, but also a new category of people more and more numerous and enterprising: the merchants.
The great trade, after the year 1000, found vitality again. However, in a context where the popular mobility was still very limited, were the goods that had to reach the costumers. The merchants decided then to fix some places - usually crossroads of the main trading routes - where, in particular days of the month or of the year, they met in order to deal and do business; in this way the first Fairs were born.
They were a real show with coulours, sounds, voices, a noisy crowd and curious characters. Among them stood out charlatans, barkers, sellers who knew how to enchant the public with their words. The medieval trading fairs also attracted a whole variety of artists: jesters, actors, jugglers, acrobats, storytellers, tightrope walkers, tamers, musicians, fortune-tellers who used a pinwheel of inventions in order to survive. The squares became soon as a stage for their shows.
Room of the Fair.
Landscapes and characters of the antique Fair stand out in this room. You can observe the extraordinary figure of the charlatan who, in order to sell his products, created the masks which will flow into "Commedia dell'Arte" and spread the use of puppets and marionettes to attract the attention of the customers. The tour is like a journey through the squares of the medieval trading fairs, through images of charlatans, storytellers, sellers, healers.
In the second part of the room, through meaningful and suggestive images, we introduce: the origin of "Commedia dell'Arte" or Theater of the Masks, a whole italian tradition, whose repertoire put on stage some events inspired by everyday life (1500s-1700s); the theatre of puppets and marionettes that also offered the chance, even if indirectly, to give voice to the population and its need of justice and equity (1600s-1900s); and at the end, in 1700s, when the various ambulant artists got together and created organised entertainments, we have the birth of the most fascinating show of all times: the Circus.