Pilade Frattini - 1901
In 1900, dynamic and hard-working Milanese impresario Pilade Frattini moved to Bergamo to take charge of the Caffé Nazionale – one of the Sentierone’s four cafés.
Coming from San Bartolomeo, the first of this quartet was the Gambrinus – a meeting place for football and cycling fans. Next, standing at the entrance to the Fiera, was the Centrale, frequented by the professional classes, office clerks and, in the evenings, by families. The Bramati – popular with the town’s journalists – was the scene of lively debates and political meetings. Finally, situated in the West Tower of the Fiera, was the Nazionale, formerly known as the Trattoria della Speranza.
Taking over from Pietro Balicco, Frattini put his wife – the attractive Signora Emilia – on the till and turned the Nazionale into a variety theatre, booking acts such as actor and quick-change artist Leopoldo Fregoli, juggler and acrobat Enrico Rastelli, and even poet Gabriele D’Annunzio and hiring out the top room to the Circolo Commerciale (a club for local businessmen). In one of his many off the cuff initiatives intended to added a touch of exoticism to proceedings, Frattini even went as far as taking on real life Chinese nationals as waiters, kitting them out in the oriental style with colourful kimonos, pigtails and painted sandals.