Exhibition ‘Mercanti di luce’ at the ‘Per Via’ Museum

Pieve Tesino (TN, Italy), 16 July 2022 – 1 November 2022

Per via museum

Some mountain communities have significant features in common with maritime communities, including an economy based on primary production and a rigid division of labour between sexes. Those circumstances often led men to undertake “nomadic” professions – such as seafaring, sheep farming or itinerant retailing – which kept them away from their communities of origin for long periods. Therefore, those who remained – the women – were entrusted, among others, with the traditional “male” tasks of sedentary societies: the hard work in the fields and the woods, but also the dialogue with the authorities and the household financial management. Sometimes, in the Tesino valley, those women were called “maschie” (trans., she-men).

The ‘Per Via’ Museum is located in Pieve Tesino (TN) and it is managed by the Fondazione Trentina Alcide De Gasperi. The museum tells us the story of those men who, starting from the 17th century, went out of the Tesino valley to seek their fortune by selling many goods, especially prints. The permanent exhibit shows us the itineraries of the peddlers – “perteganti” in the local dialect –, the secrets of their work, the mishaps and lucky adventures of some of them. Nevertheless, the stories of the women who remained in the valley are told too.

Main routes travelled by Tesino peddlers in the late 19th century (Ph. Erica Mezzoli, 2022)

The Tesino peddlers did not sell only prints. Lenses, glasses and, later, cameras also represented important trade artefacts. The recently opened temporary exhibition ‘Mercanti di luce’ brings to light the story of those Tesino peddlers who had specialized in optics and photography. Another adventure that brought our “perteganti” on all European roads – particularly those of the Upper and Eastern Adriatic regions – that spans the entire 20th century until today.

Main routes travelled by Tesino peddlers (opticians and photographers) connecting North-western with South-eastern Europe in the late 19th century (Ph. Erica Mezzoli, 2022)

The exhibition ‘Mercanti di luce’ is hosted in the ‘Per Via’ Museum main building and will remain open until 1 November 2022.

You can download the poster of the ‘Mercanti di luce’ exhibition here.

You can download the picture card of the ‘Mercanti di luce’ exhibition here.