We decided to build a narrative route recalling the events that took place during the successful attempt to break through the Gothic Line, the German defensive system built to prevent the Allies from entering the Po Plain. We also considered how the local population lived through such events, both passively and actively (i.e.The Resistance).
The decision to divide the place into five scenes came about during the planning stage.
In 1998, Arturo Ansaloni and the set designer Andrea Armieri decided which scenes would be more representative of the Gothic Line subject, in line with I.B.S.C. The first scene would illustrate the roundup of civilians living in an Apennine village by the Todt Organization, in order to use them as labour for the fortifications near the front.
The next two scenes would aim at letting visitors understand the difficult conditions people were experiencing because of Anglo-American bombing raids during the severe winter of 1944
The fourth scene would develop the Partisans’ decision to react against the painful situation Bologna had fallen into, by attacking at night. After crushing sudden attacks, the Nazi-Fascists, taking advantage of the winter pause in the near Gothic, surrounded about eighty partisans who were barricaded in the ruins of Maggiore Hospital in Riva Reno on the 7th November and after one day's fighting we arrive at the Porta Lame clash and the Partisans' victory.
In the last scene we decided to recreate the last clash of the victorious allied offensive, which brought about the liberation of North Italy : the scaling of Riva ridge, place of an important German observation post, which, after its neutralization, made it possible to conquer Mount Belvedere, an operation essential to break through the Gothic Line.
In the future we hope to develop a diorama of Rizzoli street, with the victorious Allies marching among cries of joy from the civilians (civilian population). In preparing the dioramas, we decided to divide up the building so that the scenes couldn't interfere, but would be thoroughly independent of each other, both from a visual and a sound point of view. In fact it is not possible to see the next scene without leaving the previous one, while the sound, edited by Luigi Busacchi and Angelo, follows the visitor over the entire fifteen-minute visit.
The tour is composed of one unique path: the visitor can appreciate every particular of the five episodes thanks to the very good perspective. The only railing dividing the visitor from manikins and objects is for security reasons, and is only present in the second and fourth scene, whereas throughout the rest of the path you are an integral part of the dioramas.
The figures giving life to the scenes are manikins (based on actors selected for the facial looks their faces are in fact based on plaster casts of the actors who were used as models) .
After preparing explanatory cards for each character including their role and clothes, the various actors were dressed and posed, to play the characters of the scenes.
Then, after being instructed on the actions they were to carry out, while the actors were acting, they were photographed so that the set designers could judge from the static images and communicate movement at the same time they could copy them.
To start the scenes we turned to a real direction, stored and guided by digital technology. The characters' voices were put together by show technicians with the other sounds, lights and special effects ( e.g. the vibrating floor caused by the bombing or the smoke of grenades thrown by partisans), conveying an atmosphere with a strong psychological impact. The clothes, the furnishings and the tools in the scenes are strictly original and belong to the Ansaloni family or were donated.
The weapons of the manikins, all of which date back to the 2nd World War, come from the Weapon Museum in Terni. They were allowed thanks to a demand presented in Rome at the body responsible for land arming by Doctor Giuseppe Lazzeri, member for Cultural Heritage and Activities of Emilia Romagna. The uniforms are from Arturo Ansaloni's collection; the vehicles, which give considerable realism to dioramas are on the contrary, the property of Arturo Ansloni’s father Edo.
The layout of the sets are by Andrea Armieri and Sebastiana Costa Ceccarelli, and are based on both photo documents and inspections, such as the ones on the Apennine resort of Lizzano in Belvedere by Andrea Armieri which create the setting of the first scene.