The Tesino. Amid history and memory
In the last decades, the historians of Alpine migrations and the itinerant trade of the early modern age have been turning their focus to the human and entrepreneurial affairs of the peddlers of books and prints, significant figures in the landscape of the ancient regime and a vehicle of extraordinaries cultural transferences. In this regard, a striking affair is that related to the peddlers of the Tesino Valley, whom, between the 17th and 20th centuries, functioned as a channel of transmission linking the Mediterranean and Central European worlds, disseminating publishing products related to the so-called popular press to the most varied destinations: from Flanders to Russia and all the way to Latin America.
Recovering this distinctive feature of the territory, with the project “Il Tesino. Tra storia e memoria”, undertaken in collaboration with the Fondazione Trentina Alcide De Gasperi and financed by the Treichler Family in honour of the memory of Sergio Treichler, is intended to achieve a significant advancement in the research and popularization of the exemplary case of the Tesino peddlers.
The historiography devoted to this subject has the merit of having reconstructed many success stories, distinguished by peddlers who managed to establish one of the largest and longest-lived colporteur networks in Europe, and by families who were able to get rich through the print trade abroad.
On the other hand, the stories of those who did not make it, those who suffered, those who lost everything, sometimes their very lives, remained in the shadows, unheard, never told. Thanks to unpublished archival research, the aim of the project is to bring these stories back to light, especially by retracing the dramatic events experienced by some of the tesini during their expeditions along the routes of Europe and giving voice to the families who waited in the village for their husbands and sons to return abroad, sometimes without hearing from them for years.
Indebtedness, pleading, prosecution and incarceration, as well as disease and death, are the focus of this investigation, with which it aims to surface the great difficulties and anguish that underlay the activities and experiences related with the itinerant trade. The ultimate goal is to define a picture of the affair that, while taking on the appearance of a real “counter-epic” that at first glance might appear to be the other side of the story, is actually fundamental to understand the phenomenon of itinerant trade in all its complexities.
For the research results to be exploitable, the project includes the conception and realization of a temporary exhibition at the Tesino Museum of Prints and Ambulantry “Per Via” in Pieve Tesino, which will open during the summer of 2023, as well as an accompanying volume.
Coordination: Massimo Rospocher
Researcher: Niccolò Caramel
– Fondazione Trentina Alcide De Gasperi
– Museo tesino delle Stampe e dell’Ambulantato “Per Via”
– Treichler family
Image by Museo tesino delle Stampe e dell’Ambulantato “Per Via”