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Italy VILLA DELLE FAVOLE (HANSEL AND GRETAL HOUSE) - ITALY - JULY 2019

Paradox

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I've always called this the Hansel and Gretal House, ever since I first saw pictures of it years ago and had no idea what it was really called or where it was. This year I was absolutely made up to discover our Euroderp tour would finally give me a chance to check out this lovely little place in the middle of nowhere.

It isn't a drop-dead gorgeous Italian Castle or an epic Villa or even a jaw-dropping Mansion. To some, it will be just another trashy looking derp. But to me it's an enchanted house, hidden from sight behind a tangled old hedgerow, forgotten by time, neglected by humans and nature is slowly creeping in the windows. It's stone inhabitants left as an eternal reminder of what once was. It's a hidden gem with a history fit for a fairytale, except maybe without a hero or a happy ending. A mix of brothers Grimm than Hans Christian Andersen, both of which are quite fitting when you read the history and see the photos.

It had taken me hours of research to find the location, scouring google earth and digitally "driving" down hundreds of Italian roads on Google Street View until one day I caught just a glimpse of the little white fence I had seen in a picture.

Even when we arrived the others did not think we were in the right place, there was no house, just open fields, and new builds. Apart from a little copse set back from the road and a tangled mess of hedge, but I bounded out the car in the pouring rain to go and check. At first, I couldn't see anything and a pit of disappointment welled inside me, but as I took one last go at fighting through the tangled overgrowth I saw it, the gate, it really was there! With what can only be described as childish delight I bounced back to the car, splashing excitedly through the puddles to grab the others.

Now there are a few variations of this tale all of which are similar, the main difference is really the lead characters in the story, some say it was two brothers others say it was brother and sister. Either way, the story starts with their parents.

Even with this, the story varies though, with claims of the father being a German war spy who hid in the house at the end of the Second World War. There is no evidence to support this so I'm more inclined to follow this version.

The parents owned the house and lived there happily with their two children, Nelly and Alice. Only one day a great sadness fell across them when the father was killed working on a high voltage power line. The mother was devastated and vowed never to have electricity in the house for fear it may kill them all. The mother and two children continued living in the house as the children grew up.

Eventually, the children became teachers and went out to work, their mother staying home in their house. At some point their mother died, I have not been able to find much about her death but it appears Alice and Nelly became hermits after this. Having no electricity, gas or running water they lived off what they could grow themselves and rarely interacted with the other villagers who lived nearby. The two happily spent their days immersing themselves in their passion for art. Nelly created statues and Alice painted the walls and furniture in the house, inspired by characters of fairy tales and stories. The garden soon began to fill with the numerous creatures created by Nelly. Even the two models of old televisions that are present in the house are painted with a tribute to Katia Riciarelli and Luciano Pavarotti

As rumours of the statues and the paintings grew so did the stories of the two strange people living in the little house. Due to their strange lifestyle, legend had it that the two of them would dress as Orcs and used the statues to entice children into the garden. Once in the garden the children were never seen again, it is said they were caught and eaten and their remains buried in the garden, (not all that dissimilar to the Brothers Grimms Hansel and Gretal).

Although again it is just hearsay and the villagers remembered the two siblings as nice but quiet people.

Alice never left the house, preferring to stay at home painting or making clothes for them both. Occasionally Nelly would take a bicycle and go out riding around the roads nearby. Alice apparently, along with artwork loved clothes and shoes, and even after becoming a hermit never lost that love for clothes. When Alice died in 2007 she was buried in her favourite shoes and furs.

Nelly was devastated when his sister died, to commemorate her he began to bring some of the statues he had spent his life creating to the family tomb.

Nelly was hospitalized in two nursing homes before he died. He always carried his sister's photos with him, guarding them jealously. The tomb of hermits and their relatives is located in the cemetery of their village and apparently fully reflects their personality.

It is also said the neighbours are quite protective of the quaint and enchanting little place and call out the police if they see strangers nearby. The Police are said to be relatively friendly if they find it is just photographers, not quite so friendly if they find vandals or thieves.

It must have been our lucky day as we saw neighbours, but no police came and we left without any incident. Or maybe they did see us, but with my face beaming with excitement and bouncing around with a handful of cameras, maybe just maybe
didn't call us in.

The photos do vary in colour as I couldn't decide which camera got the best outcome so they are a bit of a mix from my phone, Nikon D40x, Panasonic G3, and Canon Powershot.

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Andy

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It's always nice to see, simply a fascinating house with an interesting history. Although I was (despite mosquito spray) bitten by 1000 mosquitoes there.
A shame that since the summer of 2018 more statues were destroyed.
 
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Paradox

Paradox

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It's always nice to see, simply a fascinating house with an interesting history. Although I was (despite mosquito spray) bitten by 1000 mosquitoes there.
A shame that since the summer of 2018 more statues were destroyed.
Yes there were definitely less than Id seen online, such a crappy thing for people to do destroying them :(

What an incredible place. I love your writeup and enjoyed reading.

Have the TV's been drawn on?

:comp
Thanks, yes one has Katia Riciarelli on it and Luciano Pavarotti is painted on the other one.
 
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