Villa Grock

In Imperia there is the splendid abode of the famous Swiss clown Adrian Wettach, universally known as Grock

The sumptuous “Villa Bianca”, as its owner called it after his daughter, is surrounded by an orientalising park, and as a building it is a marvellous example of Liberty architecture, with Persian, Baroque and Rococo elements, which underline the artistic and whimsical mind of the great clown.

Born in the Swiss Berne canton in 1880, in 1923 Adrien Wettach chose Imperia Oneglia and never left Liguria. All-round character, he felt very deeply he was a clown: “My original name doesn’t count anymore,” he wrote, “I’m Grock. The other one is the name of my obscure years”.

His myth started in the 1920s and very soon he became a character to imitate, a model for many artists, a showman esteemed also by powerful people in the world (Churchill had a predilection for him, but the dictators of totalitarian states also praised him).

Going through the entrance gates is like entering a dream world. In the garden there are architectural elements that recall circus symbolism: the clowns’ balls, the little temple, the horn of plenty and then the area of the parties and the ceilings of the music halls painted by Grock himself. Also well worth seeing is a splendid fountain of youth and a baluster with the masks of the clown. In the park, recently restored, picturesque water games are done.

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