The group “le Arti per Via” was founded in Bassano del Grappa in 1984. It bases his acivity on the historical research carried on by a local scholar, Ms Elide Bellotti Imperatori, that proposed the re-enactment of the artisans and merchants in the old market square at the end of the 1800’s and early 1900. The name “le Arti per Via” can be translated as follows: “Arti” - means folk art or artisans, per Via - “along and on the roads”.

The goal of the core founders was to achieve the opposite strategy of the traditional ethnic museum: it is not people, who go to a museum to see a reconstruction of historical traditions, but the local tradition, with the artisans, costumes and interactions that go to people.

With this concept in mind, the core group, with Ms Bellotti as its leader, began to work on it reconstructing the history, making costumes, finding old tools (some are really antiques), interviewing senior citizens asking them for information about their lives, their knowledge handed down through generations, through engravings and prints of the age, gestures and shouts of the represented trades.

The result of this cultural project, which is completely original and spectacular as it will be explained, was called “Wenn die Straβe zum Museum wird” (when the street becomes a museum) by the German magazine PRISMA, after an exhibition of the group in Germany; and was completed by the Minister of Tourism of Mexico, during the Central America Tour in 1993: Cuando la calle se vulve Museo y el Museo se vuelve espectaculo (“when the street becomes a museum and a museum becomes entertainment”).



At present the group consists of about 42 characters: artisans and vendors that have something in common: their work was done along the streets and in the town squares: Banditore - Town crier, Fioraie - Flower seller, Lattara - Milk maid, Dressare – women who make bags and hats using a braider of straw, Moleta - a knife sharpener, Stagnaro - a solderer working with tin, Stramassaro - a mattress make, Venditrice di aglio ed erbe aromatiche - vendor of garlic and aromatic herbs, Spazzacamini - chimney sweeps, Ombrellaio - an umbrella repairman, Gelataio - an ice cream vendor, Torniante - a ceramic maker with a working pottery wheel, Impajacareghe - a person who reweaves the seats of straw chairs, Veraro - a glassmaker, Lavandare - washerwomen who represent the ancient laundry, Venditore di panna e storti - a vendor of sweet cones filled with whipped cream, Candolara - a vendor of wooden tools, Burattinai - a marionette maker, Mercantina - seller corsetry, Donna al telaio - woman at loom, Pollamara - poultry vendor, Ruota della fortuna - wheel of good fortune, this is an ancient wooden roulette game - Lustrascarpe - shoe shiner - Caramellara - a candy fruit vendor, Zoccolari - shoe maker, Fotografi - photographers, Cucaro - an artisan that makes “cuchi” a ceramic whistle in the form of soldiers or roosters, Scoatara - broom seller, Venditrice di fiori di carta - vendor of paper flowers, Saldamara - seller of “saldame” a special kind of sand used to polish pots and pans, Venditore di stampe - seller old prints and engravings, Venditore di frutta e verdura - the ancient green grocers, Strassaro - ragpicker seller, Fisarmonicista - accordian player, Tacabanda - the man who plays drum.     

Each of the characters are represented singly or in a group according to the historical research (for example the chimneysweep is accompanied by small slim children, the knife sharpener by a helper, the chair seat repairer with the whole family, and so on). For this reason the group of 42 characters is represented by approximately 55 people.