13 Apr 2021

RANDOM Times •

To survive, you must tell stories…(“,)

Rome: the Doll Hospital where antique dolls are given new life.

2 min read

ROME, ITALY: UNDATED: BROKEN DOLLS ARE STACKED TOGETHER IN GLASS CABINETS AT THE DOLL HOSPITAL IN ROME, ITALY. WITH HUNDREDS OF DECAPITATED DOLLS HEADS STACKED BETWEEN LOOSE LIMBS AND HEADLESS BODIES, THIS DIMLY LIT ROOM LOOKS LIKE A HORROR HOUSE. BUT THE MACABRE STUDIO IS THE FINAL RESTING PLACE FOR DOLLS WHOSE OWNERS HAVE GROWN OLD AND FOR THE CHILDHOOD TOYS THAT ARE IN NEED OF URGENT REPAIR. THE HOSPITAL OF DOLLS, OR OSPEDALE DELLE BAMBOLE AS IT IS KNOWN IN ROME, WAS BUILT BY THE SQUATRITI FAMILY SIXTY YEARS AGO. TODAY THEIR DESCENDANTS, FEDERICO SQUATRITI, 52, AND HIS 82-YEAR-OLD MOTHER GELSOMINA CONTINUE THE FAMILY TRADITION. PHOTOGRAPH BY GARY JONES, BARCROFT MEDIA UK OFFICE, LONDON. T +44 845 370 2233 W WWW.BARCROFTMEDIA.COM USA OFFICE, NEW YORK CITY. T +1 212 796 2458 W WWW.BARCROFTUSA.COM INDIAN OFFICE, DELHI. T +91 11 4053 2429 W WWW.BARCROFTINDIA.COM - CHILDREN'S TOY, CRAFT, CREEPY, DOLL, DOLLS, ITALIAN, OFFBEAT, STRANGE, TOOLS, TOYS, UNUSUAL, WEIRD, %_ 185290 _%

We are in a cobblestone alley near the popular Piazza del Popolo in Rome, Italy. Here, a weather-striped window showcases porcelain heads, limbs, and bodies of dolls long lost and completely broken.
Above the creepy repository of disrepaired faces pressed to the glass, small owl figurines perch menacingly. No. This isn’t Rome’s own little shop of horrors, but it is actually the Restauri Artistici Squatriti, known to Romans as “l’ospedale delle bambole,” which means “dolls’ hospital”. Here, Federico Squatriti and his mother Gelsomina, who is now over 80 years old, nurse ailing dolls and other porcelain objects back to health.
The workspace is very small, about 15 square meters, and pungent is the odor of the “medications” used to porcelain patients: glue and solvents. The walls and counters are covered with parts of broken toys and figurines, along with antique plates, vases, and a great number of mysterious objects waiting for Squatriti to give them new life.
The cluttered shop is intriguing enough to draw the attention of passersby, and the contents of the collection are as worthy of a visit as the shop window itself. Moreover, time seems to have stood still among toy soldiers and dolls of all sizes. It is indeed here, in fact, that for years, Squatriti have been carrying on the family tradition of restoration by taking care of very often ancient objects.

Source: Panorama. Images from web.