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Imperia – The amazing story of Villa Bianca said Grock

Imperia – The amazing story of Villa Bianca said Grock

If you abitaste in the area of ​​Imperia, come me, you would know perfectly Villa Grock; well, perfectly is a big word, because at best you would have seen from the outside, passing, and even a little’ per caso, since it is located in the residential area of ​​Oneglia call the Cascine, and unless you live there, if ti find lì, Easily you the wrong way.
Nevertheless Villa Grock here know it all, even though the gates were reopened only in January 2010. Here's the story.
This property has a disturbing aspect (but this is my version of reality), because in effect it is an Art Nouveau villa with references to Gothic and a number of poetic license intended by its manufacturer, the Swiss clown (world-renowned) Charles Adrien Wettach better known as Grock.

Grock married a woman Garessio, Ines Ospiri, and discovered in Imperia 1921, when they came to visit her in-laws who were here on holiday. If you fell in love immediately, so that in 1927, began construction work on land purchased in the hilly area of ​​the city. The result was that this particular house, the intentions of the artist, would have been his summer home.
He called the White, non in onore della figlia adottiva (come molti pensano), bensì per mantenere il nome originario del villino già presente sul terreno all’epoca del suo acquisto.
Fu qui che morì all’età di 79 years 1959.

I have already revealed the end of the story without even tell you something Mr. Grock, because I called him a clown, and you instinctively have guessed a guy with the gigantic shoes, the painted face in white and a big red mouth color in an eternal smile sad.

Grock, however, was much more, rather, it was just another thing. He began in 1894 in the circus Fiame Wetzel paired with another clown, but in a short time showed itself for what it really was, a global artist, if you like the definitions, perhaps even a genius.
Parlava infatti diverse lingue, played a dozen musical instruments, fourteen to be exact, although his favorite was the violin, who could also build. He was consecrated in 1919 Olympia Pargi when he was consecrated “King of clowns” .

In the years when television did not exist, the fame acquired in theaters, and Grock was appreciated all over the world, by ordinary people and heads of state, that he enjoyed were called Churchill or Hitler. He never took a position (after all it was the Swiss), but few could boast of his friendship. Charlie Chaplin Tranne, who had been given a room in the Villa Bianca.

When in 1950 (a settant’anni) he decided to create his own circus to carry around for Europe risked bankruptcy. But the enormous success that the show received, who also took part in the show girl singer Caterina Valente, Grock did return on investment.
The artist retired to private life in the villa in Imperia 1954, nel '59 you Mori.
Since then, the home of Grock has experienced ups and downs, his wife until 1974, the year in which he died, sought to keep alive the house and grounds, but the costs for the management of such a property proved difficult to sustain, so much so that she decided to close the gates to prevent the destruction was on display to the world.
It closed, those gates, remained until 2010, when the province of Imperia, after having bought back the house decided to turn it into a museum.
Recently I went to the villa (did not even know that it was opened as a museum).
'm Not a Grock, but I do not think the stylistic choice at its height (even though this is just my impression), not a violin exposed, almost no recall (with the exception of a few photographs and bust) capable of evoking the magic of a man who for over fifty years depopulated with his art in theaters all over the world.
But the upside is that now the gates are open again, the house has been restored and the garden is in order.
All this space makes me think that, receives about poi, the province of Imperia might decide to organize courses in theater, circus festival, or any other amazing initiative capable of filling those fifty wonderful rooms, beating, who knows, even the most optimistic expectations of the artist.
Meanwhile, while we wait for the initiatives, you do not miss the opportunity to visit this very special villa, if only to take pictures, I assure you that you will not be disappointed.

Imperia – The amazing story of Villa Bianca said Grock
Liguria – Imperia
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Texts and photographs: paola mirabolata Faravelli (the contents have been extracted from various sites dedicated to the clown).

Site for information about the museum visit:


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  1. Roberto says:

    I enjoyed reading this articolo.Sono of Imperia and I am pleased to be close to this angle “culture”and pleasant corner of the architectural novecento..è says those scrive..per long abbandonato..dimenticato..alcuni said desired is desirable.. Maybe the local government has won the battle? I hope to si..e I hope will be able to keep their commitments…because this is a little gem that can be a point of reference… And then, I am tied to this place and to this person because ..pur bambino..avevo six anni..sono was with my brother's lap great Grock and photographed by 'turisti'che at that time animated the villa..e he was home with enthusiasm and cordiality .. Photographed because twins that he jokingly took between whether to create a caricature and entertain people who at that time was present.. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to intervene.. Roberto

    • paola says:

      Hello Roberto, we are all somehow related to Villa Grock, when I wrote the article, I did not know he was so famous in the world or that the villa had stayed Charlie Chaplin.
      You could do better, location for weddings or birthday parties I do not think the maximum…, But better than nothing, better, but much better, the state of decay and neglect in which he poured out for many years.
      Thanks for writing me, I was very pleased!

  2. Nadia says:

    proud to be born in Oneglia and to have been able to visit the interior of villa Grock ragazzina.Ne I immediately fascino.Incantevole albeit bizzarra.Mi intend to just pop,I now live in Genova.Belle photographs

    • paola says:

      Hello Nadia, if you switch between Oneglia go to visit, no longer it has the charm of yesteryear, but the bizarre architecture remains, and that alone is worth the visit.

  3. Sonia says:

    Thanks Paola for this bellissmo article I discovered by accident. Very useful because carryovers information about Villa that from other parts I have not found.
    I also visiting the first time the Villa I had your same impression. Later I noticed with pleasure, that have been added other rooms where Grock appears a bit more.

    • paola says:

      Hello Sonia, in fact it was not easy to find the information. I trawled here and there on various sites, while the story of the name of the villa came to know how to be a girl who had done studies of Grock.
      He had also contacted the daughter of the maid, He said to have the photographs and other artifacts, but we have not heard.
      I did not know of the rooms where Grock appears more and this makes me happy. Let's say that we could have several choices, but it is also true that each one has his own ideas and who can say which is the best.

  4. Cara Paola, not many years ago Professor. Giovanni Curatola lectured former Anglican church of Bordighera, right on Adrien Wettach, said Grock, the greatest clowns of all time. About the villa, by the way I was born in Imperia in 1954 and I well remember the funeral Grock, Curatola said that the name was attributed to White stepdaughter, of which he fell madly in love, intestandogliela. White would not hear of this love, and he went away, seem to remember in America. That's why then the house remained abandoned for years going to meet the degradation. Prof. Curatola is an eminent scholar of oriental art, I believe that his research is very reliable. Best wishes

    • paola says:

      Hello Maria Silvana, This article about Villa Grock is becoming more beautiful in the comments.
      I'd like to learn more about Grock, but as I wrote, It is not so much about him, despite being a world-renowned character. So thank you very much for what you have told me.

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