Marco Cavallo

The story of Marco Cavallo

This statue is not simply a work of art, but it is the symbol of a revolutionary experience that changed the history of psychiatry and mental hospitals. Franco Basaglia invited a group of people (a sculptor, a filmmaker, a teacher, a photographer and others) to spend a period in the asylum. They lived for nearly two months in the hospital of San Giovanni and managed to organize a large group of patients to create a collective work. The patient's response was not immediate, but was achieved with initial difficulties. The original idea was to build a house of cardboard so as to involve as many patients as possible.
Soon, however, this proposal was rejected and they chose to make a statue of a horse, named Marco Cavallo, after the mascot of the asylum.
That horse was used to carry the laundry at the hospital. Unfortunately, as it grew old, it had to be sent to the slaughterhouse. At the request of the patients, however, the horse was sent to the city's hippodrome where it spent the rest of his life. Then, in Hall P, under the direction of Vittorio Basaglia, painter and sculptor, and Giuliano Scabia (writer, director and professor of drama), the statue slowly took shape. The structure was built with old wooden boxes, then covered with papier mache. In the end Marco's sculpture was painted blue, in memory of a Bertold Brecht's poem. The statue was ended in March 1973.


There was a big party in the frenocomio for the birth of Marco. Then the asylum administration decided to organize a party that involved the entire city of Trieste. The parade starts from the mental hospital after shooting down several doors because the head of Marco was too high. The parade arrived at the district of San Vito . In this holiday feel sick for the first time freedom.
Currently, the original statue is no longer visible in the main square of the Ospedale Psichiatrico Provinciale complex, but has been recreated in bronze-mail a copy of the first steps for the theater. The original is in a terrace of one of the many buildings of Ospedale Psichiatrico Provinciale.

  • Photos by Francesco Valentini ti.orebil|znarfinitnelav#| (December 2010)


- F. Parmegiani, M. Zanetti, Basaglia, una biografia, LINT editoriale, Udine 2009, pag 100-116.
- G.Scabia (a cura di), Marco Cavallo. Una esperienza di animazione in un ospedale psichiatrico, Einaudi, Torino 1976, pp. 195

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