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Michele Rizzo


Alice and Nelly, a story or a fairy tale?

I will now tell you the story, or rather the fairy tale, of “Alice and Nelly in Wonderland…”

Once upon a time there were a sister and brother, Alice and Nellino (Nelly for their friends), two teachers who, at some point in their lives, decided to leave their jobs behind and completely devote themselves to their greatest passion: art. They were in fact, first and foremost, great artists!

They decided to lead an almost hermit-like life, holing up in their own world, their “Fairy Tale House.” Here, far from comforts, electricity, gas or water (there are no signs of the presence of sinks or toilets), the two ate the food they grew in their garden, and raised chickens and hens.

They managed to support themselves thanks to what they earned by selling their artwork, money which was often reinvested in the purchase of other paints and varnishes.

They were extremely polite, sensitive and cultured people who lived for each other. Nellino loved his sister so much that he called her Divine.

Alice sewed her clothes by hand, and she is said to have been passionate about looking her best; despite never leaving the house, she loved wearing high heels.

Their days were full of color and life, their fairy tale house was the canvas for their art; Alice took care of the chores, while Nelly used to go to their small town in the Veneto countryside to pick up the bare minimum.


Alice and Nelly’s death

Alice died in 2007 and was buried with her fur coat and python shoes.

In 2013, before re-joining his sister in the afterlife, Nelly was admitted to two nursing homes, where he jealously guarded her photos and always told stories about her. He also made a pair of Cherubs in her memory, which continue to guard the family chapel and a bust depicting Alice, which is inside it.


Alice and Nelly’s fairy tale house is now abandoned

Currently, the fairy tale house is abandoned, and the vegetation which surrounds it seems to protect it from the outside world, enshrining it in a lush green bubble. Here, it feels as if time has stood still.

Entering the garden, one encounters dozens of fairy tale characters: next to the Mad Hatter’s statue, Alice and Nelly hold hands. This work is said to have been made by Nelly after Alice’s death, hence the sad and melancholic look with which he depicted his sister. Behind them, Don Quixote de la Mancha rides his steed, surrounded by colonnades, spires and Gothic rose windows.

Upon entering the house, one expects to find the artists at work. The work gown hanging beside the front door, the table with some of the materials needed to create statues and a few work tools leaning here and there still seem to be waiting to create new characters. In the kitchen, the fireplace and small stove that used to keep them warm in the colder months still reign supreme.

All around, the walls of the fairy tale house are covered in colorful fantasy drawings made by Alice while Nellino worked on the statues. Even the paintings on the two old televisions that are in the house pay tribute to Katia Ricciarelli and Luciano Pavarotti. After all, what good is a television set if one already lives in a fairy tale? A constant in Nelly’s works are mirrors, an element that can be found in every corner of the house… There are no photos of the two siblings, apart from the paintings that are still in their home and an old black and white photo.


Alice and Nelly’s abandoned fairy tale house and its tales.

There are many tales about this house. Some, totally unfounded, depict them as “ogres” who decorated the house with statues and paintings in order to lure children and then eat them.

Another tale has it that the father of the two siblings was a German war spy who hid in this house at the end of World War II. In reality, the two had moved here only with their mother, as their father had been electrocuted while working on a high-voltage power line. This was the reason why the mother, supported by her children, decided to never get electricity.

Alice and Nelly were very close to their mother, who wished for them to one day marry each other. The bouquet of flowers painted in one of the upstairs rooms with the words “just for mom” is dedicated to her. In the garden, among brambles and fig trees, there’s a statue depicting two lovers sharing a passionate kiss; who knows … maybe the two succeeded in fulfilling their mother’s wish…

Most of the information in this article on the history and death of Alice and Nelly (Nellino), including their only photo you see here, was taken from the book “I Colli Euganei nella memoria – vecchie storie, antiche leggende, canzoni e tradizioni” by Danilo Montin, Proget Edizioni.

Michele Rizzo



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