Morbid Fascination

A few days ago I performed with Gandini Juggling in Bergamo, home to some of the best pizza in the world, inventor of Stracciatella ice-cream and the resting place of one of the greatest and most influential jugglers of all time, Enrico Rastelli.

Arron at the grave of Enrico Rastelli
Arron at the grave of Enrico Rastelli

Even though it was only a short trip to Italy we managed to fit in a visit to Rastelli’s grave, a first for me and something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

As an atheist it felt a little odd to wonder through a grave yard so heavily entrenched in religious symbols. But it was a fitting time and location to reflect on Rastelli’s achievements. While I don’t believe his spirit was looking down on us as we placed the flowers by his feet I’d like to think that if Rastelli were alive then he’d appreciate the gesture.

It was nice to know I was treading in the footsteps of other jugglers who had been to the grave before me. It also reminded me that I really must get round to visiting Cinquevalli‘s grave in South London.

Perhaps as jugglers we care more about pioneers of our art than other circus performers or perhaps we’re just more pompous. I’ve never heard of aerialists or acrobats visiting the grave of someone who pushed their particular discipline, but I could easily be ignorant of the facts. I hope so.

If you’ve ever visited the grave of a famous circus performer or proprietor I’d love to know more, leave a comment below.

5 thoughts on “Morbid Fascination”

  1. It remains an ambition of mine to visit that spot. I think there is something special about it regardless of your spiritual beliefs.

    I remember looking at Bergamo on a map when the cruise ship I was working on docked in Genoa and trying to calculate whether or not I had time for the trip. I didn’t. One day though.

  2. I just stumbled upon this site while doing some research on Philip Astley’s grave at Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. (I have yet to find what I’m looking for). I’m not a performer, but am what I would call a circus enthusiast, and an aspiring circus librarian. In response to your blog, I have visited the graves of a few famous aerialists. Park Hill Cemetery in Bloomington, Illinois houses the graves of Ernie Lane, Mickey King, Bert and Agnes Doss, Mayme, Eddie, and Jennie Ward all of the Flying Wards, and Antoinette Concello of the Flying Concellos. It was a surreal experience.

    1. Great to hear others doing the same. Perhaps it would be nice to update the Wikipedia pages so others can visit the graves if they have the interest? Good luck tracking down Astley, be sure to let us know if you find him!

      1. Hi Arron, a visit to the Rastelli Shrine is always inspirational… I’ve done it many times and took my son there last year.

    2. My parents, George and Lorraine Valentine, of the Flying Valentinos, are buried at Park Hill Cemetery too. I designed my mother’s marker, and also Mickey King, and Mayme Ward’s markers. I had Mayme’s made in color-about the only color marker in the cemetery. Also buried there are China and Dorothy Durbin, Herb and Rose Fleming, Walter Graybeal, Sid Smith and I’m sure others that I can’t remember.

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