Description of the layout of the exhibits
The current arrangement of the exhibits essentially follows the approach established by the museum’s founder.
Exhibits and reconstructions of living and working environments are displayed in sections devoted to different topics in surroundings that for centuries accommodated travellers and pilgrims. The basement is dedicated to the agriculture of the plains (cart for spreading manure, mechanical plough, threshing machine, winnowing machine) and wine-making (large wine-press, vat made from a single chestnut trunk, still for distilling grappa). The ground floor contains domestic scenes, such as two bedrooms (one the master’s and the other a peasant’s) and the kitchen, the very heart of domestic life. The next large room shows the process of bread-making, food preparation and laundry. On the upper floor is a large area devoted to textile manufacture showing the instruments and manual machines used in carding, spinning and weaving. Then there is a room devoted to needlework and embroidery and another with a reconstruction of a shoemaker’s workshop, with a particular focus on the instruments required to make clogs with leather uppers, simple footwear common in the mountains. The next room, with a fresco by the painter Luciano Guarnieri, concerns mountain agriculture and the work associated with cereal growing, hay-making, livestock farming and above all the production of various dairy products, fundamental to a pastoral economy such as that of the Apennines. There is a large section devoted to sweet chestnuts, which have a high nutritional value and for centuries were the staple diet of many mountain dwellers, and to the rural shop. This is followed by information on crafts, such as candle making, carpentry and blacksmithing, and various itinerant traders (knife grinders, umbrella makers, boiler makers and peddlers). Further evidence of the richness of the collection is to be found in the last attic room which contains numerous prized items similar to those on display in the rest of the museum, as well as ancient costumes worn by the Cantori del Maggio, a very old type of popular epic theatre still found in the mountains of Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna. Compositions made from studs, keys and other small tools belonging to Don Pellegrini and hanging on the walls attract the attention and arouse the curiosity of visitors.
The wine cellar: this reconstruction contains the equipment for the production, ageing and transport of wine, all the more precious in our region insofar as vines were not grown extensively. Large chestnut vats and casks, presses and barrels with the associated wooden funnels for wine making and the rudimentary but efficient still for the distillation of grape marc brandies.
The candle workshop: the manufacture of wax candles for domestic lighting and devotional use in churches is shown through the reconstruction of an artisan laboratory stocked with the equipment and rudimentary but ingenious devices, somewhat difficult to trace, used to analyse the complete production cycle.
The shoemaker’s workshop: is a reconstruction of the ancient workplace of a craftsman from the neighbouring village of Chiozza, with the bench littered with knives, hammers, studs and various tools; on the walls are the lasts for shaping the shoes and different examples of traditional studded clogs with leather uppers and wooden soles, once very common throughout the valley especially in the winter months.
The kitchen: the kitchen contains a wide range of equipment: vessels of different shapes and made from different materials for food preparation, buckets for water and various household utensils; furniture, including a table and chairs, a child’s highchair and baby walker, a dish-rack and a box for preparing and kneading bread dough.
Spinning and weaving: spinning and weaving were important tasks in which all the family participated in different ways: the hemp and wool came from the fields and sheep farming; the fibres were processed, spun into thread, wound and dyed ready for weaving. The huge manual looms assembled in the room show how the weaver could create simple fabrics or cloth with geometric patterns. Another activity typically performed by women was embroidery, examples of which are on display: sheets, tablecloths and undergarments, which comprised a bride’s precious trousseau.
Agriculture: the large room with the fresco by the painter Luciano Guarnieri depicting a scene from rural life – the cutting and harvesting of hay near San Pellegrino – contains products and equipment associated with arable and livestock farming: ploughs, yokes, scythes of various shapes and sizes depending on their use, equipment for cutting straw and a wide range of equipment for working the land. Cereal production, an important element of traditional farming, is illustrated by equipment for harvesting, husking and hulling the valuable grains, as well as a set of weights used to establish the quantity for sale.