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NAPLES: Doll hospital still operating after 110 years!

Dec 18th, 2010 | By | Category: Italian News

(ANSA) – Naples, – Although shopkeepers may complain that the Christmas rush has yet to get into gear, there is a waiting list at a ‘hospital’ here which for over 110 years specialises in repairing broken dolls and toys.

Located in the heart of the old city, not far from the San Gregorio Armeno street known for its Nativity scene figurines, the ‘doll hospital’ has been repairing toys since it was set up by Luigi Grassi, a set designer from the San Carlo opera house, in 1899.

‘Doctors’ in white lab coats work not only on antique toys, stuffed animals and dolls but also newer, plastic ones that have sentimental value for their owners.

“Toys change but people do not. So many children don’t want something new but just what they had before,” said Tiziana Grassi, the founder’s descendent who now runs the ‘hospital’.

There is little room here for modern technology where the most important elements are time and dedication. Extreme care is used to repair hand-painted porcelain dolls, wearing costumes of a bygone age, hand-stitched with velvet and lace..

And old techniques are needed to fix broken rocking horses and early electric trains.

“No matter how difficult it has been, we have always done things our way. And never seeking anybody’s outside help has been the secret to keeping this tradition alive,” Grassi said.

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