With the arrival of the cinema they shifted from puppet theatre to real theatre, enriched with all the "special effects" of the puppet theatre.
That she happened to be born there was pure chance: her family was performing in the town at the time.Her father Domenico, her mother Emilia and her brother, along with aunts, uncles, cousins and other actors and actresses hired on contract, were all part of a travelling theatre troupe touring the towns and villages of Lombardy and Piedmont.But even though the geography remained in a flux, the cultural setting was always the same.As the boy grew, he became schooled in the local narrative tradition.The minutely documented records of this activity, which remains in the Rame-Fo archives, was probably maintained by Franca's mother Emilia Baldini, a school teacher and daughter of a municipal engineer in Bobbio.
As a young school teacher, Emilia fell in love with Domenico - twenty years her senior - who was passing through Bobbio with his marionettes and puppets.
To attract customers he would tell the most amazing stories, and in these stories he would insert news and anecdotes about local events.
His satirical and timely chronicles earned him the nickname Bristìn (pepper seed).
They often opened in a new town - following a poll among the townspeople - with an enactment of the life of the local patron saint.
The family's repertoire ranged from the biblical texts over Shakespeare to Chekhov and Pirandello; from Niccodemi to the great l9th century historical novels - especially those with a socialist or anticlerical bent.
In the end it was she who carried the troupe on her shoulders.