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Fun for everyone at Ravenna's toy museum

by Francesco Tutino last modified 2008-06-20 15:14

"Man doesn't stop playing because he grows old. But he grows old when he stops playing." Oscar Wilde's words ring true to Professor Baldassar, aka Roberto Papetti, the Provost of Ravenna's Marble University

" Oscar Wilde's words ring true to Professor Baldassar, aka Roberto Papetti, the Provost of Ravenna's Marble UniversityCan you tell us more about the Marble University?
It's the latest initiative of "La lucertola", the children's play centre in Ravenna. We got the idea while we were looking at an ancient game of marbles, dating back from the 5th century, in a museum in Berlin. We fell in love with it and decided to try and make one the same. After that we built other marble alleys - which are really just places where you can play marbles. I decided to call it a University because I wanted it to seem Fun for everyone at Ravenna's toy museumimportant to the kids. Plus I teach there as well.

What do you teach, Professor Baldassar?
Ways of throwing marbles, how to play with marble alleys and how to build them. That's basically what the University is about.

What type of people come to the centre and how do they get to know about you?
We get a lot of school trips. There are also quite a few tourists, especially French and German ones who are on holiday in the Ravenna area. Don't forget that Ravenna is the fifth most important tourist destination in Italy.

When is the centre open?
The museum is open all year round to visitors of all ages. The marble alleys are on show in the "Museo delle idee" (Ideas Museum) where the games are displayed in themes, such as traditional Italian games, musical games, ethnic games from all over the world. I organised the museum with the Museo delle meraviglie in Ozzano Taro (PR) in mind. There a huge selection of objects and tools are catalogued and described then displayed in apparent chaos. Here we have mounds of games and toys left to be discovered.

What do children do or ask the most? How do they react to the centre?
As soon as a child comes through the door they enter into wonderland. There's something for everyone here, no-one ever gets bored. Sometimes I'm amazed at how different each child's taste is.

Is there still such a thing as a typical Italian game and is there a link between a game and where it is played?
Yes. here in Ravenna we have always played a ball game in the sand. In Siena they play with barberi, wooden bowls that are painted in the same colours as the different contrade and called after the most famous jockeys. They are then rolled around an alley three times, just like in the Palio.

What is the situation in Italy with regards to facilities for children?
There's a whole world out there and there's certainly more effort being put in than in the past. Positive things include the increase in play centres, play buses and town planning with children in mind. Recent initiatives in Fano come to mind.

So it's next stop Fano. But in the meantime, can you give us the name of a restaurant which caters for both adults and children?
Enoteca Ca’ De Ven in the Dantesca area. It specialises in piadine (which are typical of the Romagna area) and serves the best crescione in the province. There's even a recipe for piadine alla Ca’ De Ven.

See the Ravenna's Toy University

La Lucertola - - Ravenna's play centre and toy museum (in Italian only)
Play centres - A list of the main play centres in Italy (in Italian only)
Play buses - - The play buses currently making their way along Italy's roads (in Italian only)
International Toy Library - - Visit the International Toy Library
Il Museo delle meraviglie - - Get an idea of the ordered choas of this museum
Enoteca Ca De Ven - - For the best piadinas in Ravenna

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