Unique Italian Museums

Unique Italian Museums

Italy’s museums are home to some of the world’s best-loved cultural treasures and there’s no shortage of art or artefacts to admire. But sometimes you may want to intersperse other cultural features in addition to ancient Roman vases and Renaissance paintings. There are numerous unusual museums, from the macabre to the mundane and Italy houses these exhibits which are like nothing you’ve ever seen.

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The Tap Museum in Novara: It may be called by different names – a faucet, spigot of tap, but the humble devise takes center stage in this museum which explores the history of hygiene, the invention of the device itself and other water-themed inventions. The economy of the town of San Maurizio d’Opaglio relies largely on the production of taps, so the small two-room museum was created to celebrate its famous export through a display of historical documents and of course, taps.

Interested in something a bit flashier? Try the Pinball Museum in Bologna. The Museo del Flipper (the Italian word for pinball machines) has over 400 of the machines, some dating back as far as 1830. It’s possible to play on many of the games, but curious visitors can also learn about the history and construction of them.

Tucked away in the beautiful Tuscan countryside, San Gimignano’s museum offers some grisly insight into crime and punishment of centuries past. Exhibits include gruesome instruments of torture, from hanging cages to electric chairs and spike-lined coffins. But the museum also aims to serve as a reminder that torture still exists today, albeit in a different form. Not for the faint of heart.

Did you ever wonder about a museum devoted to pasta? There is only one of its kind in the world and it is located in Rome. It’s currently closed for renovation, with the reopening date to be announced later this year, but worth a visit once the updates are complete. Stroll through the rooms to discover the history of the food, from early manufacturing processes to advertisments through the ages. It will arm you with plenty of facts to amaze your friends.

The Ethnographic and Witchcraft Museum: Triora is a small village near Italy’s north-western border and is known as one of the country’s most beautiful villages. Its medieval charm hides a dark past. In the 16th century, it was here that the last suspected witches were burned in Italy. Local women and one boy were accused of causing the plague, famine, the deaths of livestock and were burned at the stake for witchcraft. The town’s museum tells the story of the trials, with artifacts and documents from the period and information about the interrogations. Head down to the basement, which was the site of the town’s prison centuries ago. Walking around Triora, there are plenty more reminders of its eerie past, from the magical souvenirs on sale, to tours of the victims’ homes and a summer witchcraft festival.

Head south of Parma to Langhirano in order to learn everything about the region’s typical meat products at the Prosciutto and Salami Museum. Exhibitions shed light on the ancient Roman origins of Parma ham, the development of curing processes, farming and recipes. At the end of the tour, there’s the chance to buy local products, tableware and cookbooks.

For the absolutely ordinary, try the Ettore Guatelli Museum in Gaiano. Ettore Guatelli started collecting everyday objects – tools, packaging, crockery and clothing – in order to preserve remnants of ordinary Italian life for future generations. Today, the collection makes for fascinating viewing, with each of the mundane objects arranged in geometric patterns or piled high against the walls, allowing visitors to ponder on the lives and stories behind each one. There’s also a possibility to craft your own item out of some of the relics at the end of the visit.

Located in Piedmont wine country in Barolo, is the Corkscrew Museum. It traces the history of the corkscrew and displays over 500 examples of the tool, hailing from different countries and eras. It is just one of many curious museums within Italy that are worth a visit if you find yourself in that region.

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