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Virginia Ripana has been saved

One night in 2017, in Ripatransone, a group of unknown individuals broke into the Luigi Mercantini Theatre and vandalised the fabric of the stage curtain. The next morning, the curtain was found with vertical cuts in several places and pieces of fabric removed.

Driven by our deep-set sense of local community, and with the support of the Ripatransone town authority, the Superintendency of Fine Arts of the Marches, we financed the curtain’s restoration. The project was led by Giacomo Maranesi and his team.



Bridging history and today

irginia Ripana is the protagonist depicted on the stage curtain. Her father would sooner kill her than leave her to a soldier of the Spanish army occupying the city. The gestures and feelings expressed on the characters’ faces are still just as evocative today.

The work, measuring 630x755cm, was carried out using the lean tempera on canvas technique, and in 1870 was commissioned by the Municipality of Ripatransone to painter Giuseppe Ruffini. In addition to Virginia and her father, the painting clearly shows the buildings of the time, as well as Ripatransone citizens and the men of the Spanish army. The curtain stands an interesting tale of historical testimony. 

The painting had been worn by time and dust, use and exposure, and the curtain was in a poor state of repair at the start of the restoration work. So it was also an opportunity to reinforce the canvas structure, which had never before undergone this kind of intervention. From the preliminary documentation through to the structural restoration, the replacement of the suspension system and the aesthetic and pictorial retouches, all phases of the restoration took place at the Theatre. The work was agreed with the public administration and completed little by little so not to put the theatre out of action for too long.  

Even now, the reason for this act of vandalism is not understood and the perpetrators are still unknown. However, it has made it possible to once again enjoy a work of art that was on the point of being forgotten. Although it has been restored, the canvas still has a fragile and delicate soul due to the fabric’s natural ageing, requiring increasing care.   

31 JULY 2022 at 11:15

On 31 July at 11:15am, as part of the Festa dei Colli Ripani, at 11:15 at the theatre, Giacomo Maranesi will tell us all about the work that was done to revive Virginia Ripana and her story.  

Virginia Ripana have been saved.  
Bridging history and today  
by Giacomo Maranesi who led the restoration work on the Luigi Mercantini curtain painting

Luigi Mercantini Theatre – Ripatransone

Free admission - Free of charge event organised with the patronage of the Municipality of Ripatransone