Another Neighborhood Unsolved Mystery

2 Mar

People, I really don’t know what to make of this. When I first arrived in my neighborhood, I saw this window with all these stuffed animals and random gobbledy-gook hanging from it, and I asked Alessandro what the heck was going on there. He told me that it was probably for La Befana, since it was late December-early January. (Even though I’ve never personally seen anyone do this to celebrate La Befana…) Well, once it got to be about August, and our furry friends were still left hanging out there, that theory pretty much fell apart.

So here we are, nearly six years and two additional windows later, and the mysterious fun fest just keeps on growing. You can’t miss this window when walking down Via della Lungaretta, just over Viale Trastevere on your way to Piazza S. Maria in Trastevere.

Here are the only shabby facts I have on this mystery:

1) The stuffed animals and other random “decorations” are never removed from the windows. They stay there day in, day out, night and day.

2) I am 99% sure I know who does this. It’s this man I see walking around the neighborhood on a very regular basis. He is, as you can imagine, quite the character. Picture Colonel Sanders, maybe minus the goatee, add a cowboy hat and a walking stick, and you’ve pretty much got it. I know nothing else about him, except that he has a posse of equally “interesting” friends who travel along with him. And he is pretty much always talking to someone, in what looks like a very involved, intellectual conversation. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him alone. He’s like the neighborhood social butterfly. And he’s tall, people. At least 6 ft. 1 or 2 inches, if not more.

3) The reason I am pretty sure I know who it is? One time I saw a photocopied article taken from some underground, alternative magazine plastered to many random buildings around the neighborhood, and when I stopped to look at it, there was a picture of these windows and of the man in question, but I didn’t read the article. Now, years later, I’m really regretting that, because lately this has become one of those mysteries that is just eating away at me. I might need to start questioning neighborhood sources, such as the fruit vendor, Piero, whose store is about 2 feet from my front door. If his dog Nano could talk, he would reveal every neighborhood secret, since he probably hears them all as he sits in his little cut-out fruit box doggy bed every day at the fruit store entrance.

Now, although I see this mysterious Signore Sanders-like guy a couple times a week in passing on the neighborhood streets, I have to admit that even in the name of blogging I’m not shameless enough to stop him and ask, “Hey, what’s up with your windows?” Just yesterday I saw him again, checking his mail at the front door of the building in question with another member of his cowboy hat posse, and I was really tempted, but I still just can’t seem to find a way to start that conversation. And I don’t have the guts to try to snap an undercover photo of him.

Alas, this is one of those mysteries for which, I’m afraid I can’t tell you anything other than you’ll just have to come over here and see for yourself. And if you bump into him, please ask what’s up for me. You can get away with it, I promise.

My personal favorite? The blonde Barbie-like doll on the left window. But the orange hazard triangle on the right window is also a nice touch.

**UPDATE: Grazie mille to GPL, another blogger here in Rome who kindly shared his knowledge in the comments section about this mysterious man. Apparently he is known as the Puppazzaro or the, well, how can you translate that? The stuffed animal man? And he is/was a painter, along with his brother who were part of a group of artists that were friends with Pier Paolo Pasolini.

Also, on a totally unrelated note, please allow me to direct you to the funniest thing I’ve seen all day, thanks again to GPL. Take a look at Francesco Rutelli, Italian Vice Premier and Minister of Cultural Heritage and Tourism (whoa, try saying that 5 times fast!), as he urges you to pleeeeeeease, come and visit Italy, in what can only be described as a drug-induced state that permitted him to temporarily speak a strange trance-like English. This *might* just earn a spot on my sidebar.


17 Responses to “Another Neighborhood Unsolved Mystery”

  1. Gracie March 2, 2007 at 8:13 am #

    I’d go and ask him, no way I could stay in the suspence any further!!

  2. nyc/caribbean ragazza March 2, 2007 at 8:56 am #

    shelley, I stay an apartment across the piazza from him and he used to ring/shake the art hanging out of his windown all the time. I was told he is an artist. He does stand out in a crowd.It was great to meet you yesterday. good luck with all the wedding planning.

  3. gpl March 2, 2007 at 9:12 am #

    He is called “il pupazzaro” and is or rather was a painter. His brother and him were part of the artists who were friends of Pier Paolo Pasolini. Great Blog,gp

  4. Shelley - At Home in Rome March 2, 2007 at 9:17 am #

    Gracie: I know, I should…NYC: SO great chatting with you yesterday! It will be great when you are finally here so we can hang out more often.GPL: Grazie, grazie! Thanks for revealing the mystery for all of us! I had no idea he had ties to the famous Pasolini as well. As you can tell, I just LOVE these neighborhood characters. So much life and history here in Trastevere. A presto!

  5. emeliehealy March 2, 2007 at 10:45 am #

    what a bizarre and intriguing mystery! i’m glad it’s been solved – many thanks to your Private I. skills!

  6. nikinpos March 2, 2007 at 12:16 pm #

    Wow, you only had to ask and the mystery was solved!Now you have to get into his house and see what it is like inside…and report back of course!

  7. heather March 2, 2007 at 12:59 pm #

    I have two shots of this window from my summer in Rome two years ago. I would LOVE to know what it’s all about.

  8. gpl March 2, 2007 at 1:56 pm #

    Dear Shelley,thanks for the ad and thanks for posting a comment on that fantabolous video…Still one thing about the “pupazzaro”, he draws slapdash portraits and asks to spare some coins in

  9. Ms Adventures in Italy March 2, 2007 at 4:04 pm #

    Shelley, I can verify that those dolls have been there at least since 2003, probably longer. I also heard some other “bits” about him – we were sitting eating there in that terrible restaurant under his window and several high-school age kids went with him up to his apartment. They say maybe he’s a “supplier” of “inspirational” herbs. Funny.

  10. Shelley - At Home in Rome March 2, 2007 at 5:01 pm #

    Ms: OMG, that’s hilarious! Well, at least now I know where to go when I need some “inspiration” for my blog. Kidding, kidding!

  11. African Kelli March 2, 2007 at 8:15 pm #

    so, this is his version of public art. Very interesting!It seems like all the fun is trying to escape his home.

  12. Dixie March 3, 2007 at 12:26 am #

    Oh do get a portrait drawn by this man if you get the chance. Wouldn’t that be so cool?And that video is a scream. I have to go back and look at it again.

  13. PowersTwinB March 3, 2007 at 3:23 am #

    I’m scared! lol…That video teriffied me, you seem to hit it correctly with that “drug induced” statement!, my thoughts on the “art” man?…mind you, it’s just a silly ole American…but maybe he’s doing voodoo??? lol…I lie your blog!

  14. Casey Klahn March 3, 2007 at 4:50 am #

    Greetings, Shelley. Sounds like you’re living the life, there in Roma.Check out my “daily” style painting blog, that spring is coming soon for you!

  15. Expat Traveler March 5, 2007 at 2:32 am #

    lol – rather odd for sure… But at least we know where it came from…geeze I haven’t been around. I’m so wanting to catch up and know how the B&B is doing!


  1. Goodbye personaggi trasteverini « Quasi Romana - August 8, 2008

    […] arriviamo al mitico puppazzaro. Per anni non sapevo chi fosse ma finalmente negli ultimi anni ho scoperto il segreto. Non lo vedo […]

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    […] donna in zona mette sempre i collant a color turchese e scoprire se lei è veramente la ragazza del Puppazzaro come a me piace […]

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