Collector of memories and atmospheres

by Lina Vergara Huilcamán

Photo © Lina Vergara Huilcamán

Photo © Lina Vergara Huilcamán

Photo © Lina Vergara Huilcamán Photo © Lina Vergara Huilcamán Photo © Lina Vergara Huilcamán Photo © Lina Vergara Huilcamán Photo © Lina Vergara Huilcamán Photo © Lina Vergara Huilcamán Photo © Lina Vergara Huilcamán Photo © Lina Vergara Huilcamán Photo © Lina Vergara Huilcamán Photo © Lina Vergara Huilcamán

I was born with a passion for objects. This passion exploded in 1967— I was eighteen—when I worked for the first two movies by Pupi Avati. I think it was all about fate: one day I was walking on via del Porto, downtown Bologna, and they were shooting a movie. I got closer and saw a chair with my name written on it, and while I was there, reflecting on this coincidence, my father came, recognised me and hugged me. I had no idea my father was an actor, since I hadn’t seen him for years: my mother and he had divorced and I had had a fight with him. He asked me what I was doing, and at the time I was working in Rimini, building signs (back then they were hand-made, one by one), but it wasn’t such a great job, and he told me that maybe they were going to shoot a movie in September, and proposed me to join the troupe. This was my lucky break, that’s how it all began. I started helping a set designer, who used to send me around to get stuff from antique dealers. I did a little of everything and did it for two years. Then Avati moved to Rome, his movies weren’t successful, and I started nurturing my passion for fashion. I founded my own company, where I could create and sell my designs. In 1969 I opened a second-hand clothing shop, the first vintage store in Italy, and it was a great success. All singers used to come… Lucio Dalla, Francesco De Gregori, Loredana Berté, Renato Zero… that was the start of a career I hadn’t planned at all. Some years later, Avati came to me because he had a problem with a costume for the actress Mariangela Melato and I solved it. The following year they asked me to design the costumes for a movie and I accepted, because that’s the way I am, I always accept new challenges. Also as a costume designer I had a great success, but at the same time I already had a thing for antique furniture and used to collect toys. So, one day I left costumes and clothing to devote myself only to cinema and collecting. In 1976 I created Polvere di Stelle, the first shop decorated with antique furniture. This started a new trend, and I began working as an interior designer. I bought an old carpenter’s shop and founded a small interior design company. Then I arrived to this warehouse, with an area of two thousand and two hundred metres big, filled with my objects, which I have chosen and bought one by one—I love them all. I like to create stories and atmospheres with them, I learnt it while working in movies. I’ve always loved cinema, and I  still love it. I have a real movie theatre at home, and when I have a moment I watch films, old or new ones… and then watch them again. When you work in movies you really get into it, because cinema is a wonderful world, a dream. I collaborated with many directors, but now I am tired, I haven’t been moving in the last ten years, and I just work with rental. They come from Rome to choose the items. I had a beautiful life, I did what I liked and I always had fun working. I did a little of everything in my life, I like to work and I think I will die working, because I just can’t stop. I didn’t choose what I am or what I’ve been, I didn’t like to go to school and so I quit studying, I’ve always read a lot, but only what I liked. I   don’t know if I can call myself a collector, I love details, and I keep buying… yet, since I have no heirs to whom I can leave all this stuff, I buy far less than before, limiting myself only to very peculiar things. I am attracted by thousands of things, and I like to change and vary. I live in a medieval tower built in 1197, in Bologna’s lowlands. Avati told me that once the aristocrats used to spend the summer in these lowlands, because they are amazing, and full of amazing atmospheres. When I go out in the morning, I  meet the country folks you could meet in good old times, I meet hares and pheasants, and the mist… I would never live in town. I don’t like downtown, parking, chaos and dirty air… I once used to spend all my time in Bologna, but globalisation spoiled it all, everything is dirty and managed by rude people. I love old little shops, the old shoemaker, the good old times’ butcher. I don’t go to supermarket, those booths make me sick and I think about how beautiful life was fifty years ago, without all these supermarkets… you could only meet good people downtown. I live in the past, and at night, I come back to my tower, I go down country roads, with not a single traffic light, and feel relaxed.

Steno Tonelli is the owner of Globe Theatre, a 2200 square metres warehouse in Funo Argelato, Bologna, overflowing with stories and history, where you can visit a good old times’ drugstore, find an old toy collection or the tools and posters of past movies. A place where every corner is inhabited by a memory demanding to be dusted down.

Globe Theatre – via di Saliceto 8, Funo di Argelato (Bo)