VILLA GROCK in LIGURIA: where children become clown




VILLA GROCK: welcome to the paradise for adults and children!
This villa is located in Imperia Oneglia (Liguria) on a wonderful seafront hill and was willed by Grock, a swiss clown who lived between 1800 and 1900, and whose real name was Charles Adrien Wettach.

At that period he was one of the best paid artist and became so famous in Europe but not only, that in Paris he was elected by the audience as the “clown’s King”.
He made many people laugh, included Charlie Chaplin, in a period in which two world wars plagued the world and in which fun didn’t exist. The arrive of the circus in town was so considered as an occasion to forget for an instant the difficulties of life.
He prepared his shows with precision and studied them in every possible details to amaze and enchant his audience. He also learnt to play piano, violin and other instruments, to match them with his shows.

Thanks to his love for children, for the cotton candy and for music, he built his villa according to his personal tastes: in fact here everything talks about him, about his multifaceted personality and his creativity. Each corner of the villa bears its original and highly personal imprint: some walls outisde show circus motifs as well as the ceiling of the entry, the little bar inside and all the rooms you are going to visit. Even his face is everywhere.





All this circus elements are however dual as the nature of a clown is: for example, the ceiling at the entry represents a circus tent or something more mysterious linked to the freemasonry or to the esotericism? The same thing for the temple on the little island in the garden, the tower of the villa with the sculpture that represents Grock’s face, and all the geometric conformations of the indoor floors. They can remind to a spiritual and esoteric meaning, beyond the fairy and circus aspect.
However this meanings remain a mistery, as well as Grock himself remains a man about whome nobody knows; nor about his personality or his secrets.

a voyage into the exoteric memory of Grock


Inside today it’s an interactive museum where children (but also the sdults) have fun: they can dress like clowns, they can see little clown shows turning a crank as it once was, they can play in front of the funhouse mirrors and playing with different kinds of instruments: Giada was very excited for this experience!


At the top there is a wide terrace with a great view over the gardens of the villa and over the sea: from this point you can better take a photo to Grock’s face on the tower of the villa.



Outside the residence is surrounded by a great garden: now men are working at it to make it more beautiful with flowers, plants and so on; I think it will be all ready by October.
When I went in July the garden was not so well maintained (because works were still in progress), but I couldn’t help but notice that the location is simply wonderful: there is a small island in the middle of the swimming pool where Grock swam and fished, linked to the garden by a bridge at the end of which there is a delicious little temple. That’s reminds me to an oriental athmosphere, such as the tower of the villa and the varoius palms that are inside the gardens. The syle is also a mix of art-decò, liberty and rococò.
This villa is unique: people can like it or not but it remains for me a great art masterpiece.


After Grock’s death this complex began a period of decay and what reamined was stolen during the years. Only in 2002 the Province bought the villa saving it for worse. Today it’s also a seat for weddings and in 2015 was the set of the official remake of the very famous Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.

In seguito ala morte di Grock il complesso ebbe un periodo di decadenza e tutto ciò che rimase venne rubato nel corso degli anni. Solo nel 2002 la Provincia la acquistò risollevandola dalla cattiva sorte. Oggi questo luogo è usato per matrimoni e nel 2015 fu il set del remake ufficiale della famosa “Thriller” di Michael Jackson.



Every Monday from 14.30 to 17.30

Adults: Euro 5.50
Children under 6: free
Groups: Euro 4 min 10 pax. Must book per mail:
o tel. +39 0183-704211 / 0183-704619




Highway A10 Genova – Ventimiglia EXIT: Imperia Est.
Follow the signs to the centre; drive along Via Garessio until the roundabout; take the second exit ; go on through Via Agnesi and Via Nicolò Berio till Piazzetta De Negri .
From here you can leave your car (if you find a car park) go on foot walking behind the school in front of you (Liceo Statale Amoretti) until Villa Grock along an uphill road.


For me the best option, as finding a car park in Imperia is very difficult.
Train direction: Ventimiglia (from Milan); Genova /Torino (from Ventimiglia).

Get off at Imperia station. Outside the station go right and go on foot till the end of the street.
You’ll have to walk, at a certain point, under the street and cross the bridge that stands above the river “Torrente Impero”. Straight ahead again until you see a square with a beautiful white fountain in the middle: that’s Piazza Dante, tha main square in the centre. In Piazza Dante remain on the left side and take the first to the left after the bus stop in front of you; go straight on about 100mt then take the second to the right; again straight on till the crossroad where you should see the mural of Villa Grock: go behind the mural and go straight on for 10/15 minutes until you see the villa in front of you.

Alternative:  you could take a bus outside the station but it costs 1 Euro more, so 2.50 Euro for two minutes transport. Then in Piazza Dante you have no buses that could take you to up to the villa: you have to walk anyway. Or you could also take a taxi that brings you directly to the destination without walking but the costs are quite high.


NOTE: Imperia Oneglia aren’t two different towns. Imperia is the general name for this zone. Imperia included two towns: Oneglia and Porto Maurizio separated from the river “Torrente Impero”.
I say it because many tourists remain astonished:
“Are we in Imperia or Oneglia”?
“Where is the centre of Imperia”?  It doesn’t exist: there are two centres, one is Oneglia and one is Porto Maurizio and nothing else!




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In the last years I follow what Dalai Lama says:” At least once a year go to a place you’ve never been before”.

After years of sufferings and sacrifices, I’ve decided that life is too short and too unpredictable to continue waiting to do what I like and what makes me happy.

I like exploring the world where I live, take photos of it in general but also in its details, film it to hold back those subtle emotions that you could forget over time, and in the end share with you what I’ve seen and felt through my articles.

Travel is for me Love – Freedom – Gratitude




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