Memories of rural culture
The memory of a rural world
Memories of rural culture in the province of Mantua
In the Mantuan area there are various ways of remembering a rural world which has now unfortunately almost disappeared. These include museums of the rural civilization and family museums. The first houses tools and utensils found after patient researches or otherwise donated to the museum over the years. The family museums are collections of objects inside farms or "aziende agrituristiche" (farmhouse hotels and restaurants). These objects often belong to the history of the farm and the family itself, and were used generation after generation until a few decades ago. These "museums of farm-life and crafts`, spread throughout the province of Mantua, were set up with the aim of creating a charming demological itinerary of the popular traditions. Their existence was made possible thanks to the goodwill of antique lovers. The purpose of these museums is to prevent this kind of "social memory" from being completely forgotten. Consequently, they try to preserve the remaining evidence of a millenary culture which has undergone a progressive decline, but which is now strongly recovering the dignity which it deserves. Far from being insignificant and isolated collections, they are real revisitations of a culture which, although behind us, is one to which we are fortunately still attached. This does not mean losing ourselves in anachronistic nostalgia, but respecting and exalting the human, historical and social roots of our people. So, before cancelling all this from memory, there have been citizens who sought to honour a past imbued with hard work, poverty and hunger. Nevertheless, they have tried to avoid mystifying into a folkloric void a hard reality, which too often consisted of a vulgar exploitation and extreme humiliations.
Museums of the rural civilization
The best known and most complete museum which bears testimony to the rural world in the province of Mantua is, undoubtedly, the Museo della Cultura Popolare Padana di San Benedetto (Museum of Common Padana Culture of San Benedetto). As well as distinguishing the different phases of agricultural work and reconstructing the charming environments of the rural world, the collection takes into consideration the work of craftsmen, without overlooking the products of common art, among which is a collection of old marionettes as well as painted scenes and scripts dating back from the seventeenth to the twentieth century. In the Benedictine complex the rooms of the old rural homes are recreated. Among the other exhibits, we must mention an extremely original solar calendar from 1795, which marked the passing of the seasons and the astral positions at any moment of the year. Of all the objects exhibited in the museum, the most mysterious and the most representative of the beliefs of the people are the farm carts. They represent a synthesis of the daily work and the religiousness of the farmers, mingled with superstition. The carts are objects of unsuspectable symbolic messages, which bring good fortune and keep away evil. Among the carts exhibited, the most beautiful is the so called "Carro del diavolo" (the Devil`s cart), constructed in 1855 by the Boiardi workshop in Reggio Emilia. The undercarriage shows the Devil attacking a woman, perhaps guilty of lust and infidelity, probably a warning to the woman who goes to her groom`s house on this cart together with the dowry.
Musei Civici Polironiani - Chiostro degli Abati San Benedetto Po Phone: 0376 623036
The Museo della Fondazione Francioli Nuvolari at Villimpenta was founded on the wishes of Ugo Francioli, owner of the collections and of the building (the old family house) where the museum is housed. The collection includes historical documents, among which there are letters from the Italian Risorgimento, books and a piano belonging to the Francioli-Nuvolari family. Upstairs there are old vehicles and agricultural tools of the nineteenth and twentieth century.
Museo Fondazione Francioli Nuvolari - Pradello di Villimpenta Visits by booking : Phone: 0376 667108 - 030 9141398
At Canneto sull`Oglio, as well as the Museo del Giocattolo (Toy museum) and the Collezione Mortara (Mortara collection), it is possible to visit the well-stocked Museo Civico Raccolta Oglio-Chiese (Oglio-Chiese Civic Collection), which brings together finds testifying to the life and history of the territory between the Oglio, the Chiese and the Naviglio. The civilization of the river is described by means of boats, objects concerning the river life, including the old crafts (fishermen, laundresses, ferrymen, millers...) Of great interest is the section dedicated to "myths and rites of the peasant traditions", while the part reserved to "VIVAISMO` (market-gardening) recalls the productive activities typical of the history of Canneto. Museo Civico Raccolta Oglio-Chiese Piazza Gramsci - Canneto sull`Oglio (Mn) Phone: 0376 70671-70175
In one of the most charming places in the province of Mantua, at Grazie di Curtatone, there is the Museo di Ecologia Culturale (Museum of Cultural Ecology). The aim of the village and of the volunteers who conceived the cultural project is to demonstrate the interdependence between culture and environment in the lake area near Mantua and in the natural territory of Il Serraglio, which lies among the Mincio, Oglio and Po rivers. The museum is divided mainly into two sections: the first, taken care of by Tino Venturelli, a former cane cutter from Grazie, keeps tools and utensils once used for fishing, hunting and collecting canes in the Mincio valleys. There are also interesting finds which document the original natural environment, such as marsh-herbs, wild flowers and evidence of the local bird-life. The second section, created by Cesare Natali thanks to meticulous research lasting twenty years, houses domestic and agricultural tools and utensils recovered from farms and workshops within the district of Curtatone.
Museo di Ecologia Culturale Via Pozzarello, 10 Grazie di Curtatone (Mn) Visits by booking : Phone: 0376 358128 (Culture Office, Curtatone Borough Council)
At Bagnolo S. Vito there is a Mostra Permanente sulla Civiltà Contadina e Artigianale (Permanent Exhibition on the Farm and Craft Life) together with a cultural association which dedicates itself to protecting and promoting the precious refound heritage. The exhibition is divided into two distinct areas, situated respectively at the Corte Renolfa, between Bagnolo and San Biagio, and in the primary school of Bagnolo. The "Corte Renolfa" exhibition is particularly complete, with evidence of the rural life, the stall crafts, the farm animals, the farmers` homes, weaving, country traditions, the school and toys of the old days, transport, crafts of long ago and the rivers Po and Mincio. In the primary school building there is a historical-educational laboratory featuring the daily life of our ancestors, realized through the research of materials and evidence carried out by the members of the association and the pupils themselves. All of this, which then gave rise to the cultural association "Museo della Civiltà Contadina" (Museum of the Farm Life), was made possible thanks to the collaboration of children, parents and the elderly, coordinated by the teacher Silvano Ragazzi.
Mostra permanente sulla Civiltà Contadina e Artigianale Via Renolfa - Bagnolo S. Vito (Mn) Phone: 0376 415614-414037 (Primary school)
In 1990 the Museo del Po of Revere was established. In it there are prehistoric finds relating to a village of the civilization of the Terramare discovered in this area, and more recent evidence on the life around the river Po. The documentation concerning crafts which have now disappeared, like that of the fisherman, is charming. For example, we can admire a splendid, original fishing boat of the Po, as well as ten harpoons of different sizes. On the walls there are ancient original documents concerning the life and the work of those who lived by the river. Among the other objects exhibited, we can see fishing-nets typical of the zone. There are also embalmed specimens of river fauna.
Museo del Po Piazza Castello, 12 Revere Visits by booking : Phone: 0386 46001(Comune) oppure 0386 846092 (Pro Loco)
Musei familiari (family museums) they can be visited on agreement with the owners
Fondo Fienil Nuovo di Fabio Freddi Via Sabbioncello, 32 Quingentole (Mn) Phone: 0386 42143
Collection of vintage Landini farm tractors, including over 80 different tractors. In collaboration with the Landini factory.
Corte Raffa di Enrico Raffaldini Via Scapino, 1 Dosolo (Mn) Phone: 0375 89262
Little museum of vintage radios, consisting of examples from the beginning of the century to 1938
Corte San Giovanni di Giovanni Alberini Strada San Silvestro 8/A Mantova Tel. 0376 381889
Ricco e interessante museo di attrezzature agricole, tra cui carri, utensili per la lavorazione del legno, forme per formaggio, botti da vino, aratri. Visita su prenotazione anche per scolaresche. Visita al museo più visita dell`azienda: 2,00.
Corte Valle San Martino di Giuseppe Mezza Via Valle San Martino, 30 Moglia (Mn) Phone 0376 557943
Opening shortly: a museum on the life and work of the farmers` families between the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century.
Corte Donda di Claudio Rizzi Via Palazzo, 35 Salina di Viadana (Mn) Tel. 0375 785697
Bellissimo museo dedicato al vino, che raccoglie vecchi oggetti e strumenti nei suggestivi locali della cantina. Visita al museo riservata ai clienti.
di Tomaso Vanzini
Via Galeotto, 2 Loc. Cadè
Phone: 0376 229165
Il Galeotto is the oldest pila da riso (rice-mill) in the province of Mantua, and it offers guided visits, during which you can see the next door mill, which is still operative. In this way, you can see at first hand how the traditional rice working is carried out with original machinery and structures. The visitor can also see filmed sequences relating to the environment of the Parco del Mincio, and there is also a little library with documents concerning the rice-pickers and a parchment by Maria Teresa of Austria.
di Giuseppe Groppelli
46040 Castellaro Lagusello
A permanent exhibition of vintage tractors,
including "Case C HP 26` from 1923 and "Super Landini` from 1938.
Corte Cà Rossa di Armando Benassi Via Galvagnina, 58 Pegognaga (Mn) tel. 0376 558765
Collection of agricultural tools, tractors, household objects.
Corte Grande di Elisabetta Noci Via Cesare Battisti, 6 Roncoferraro tel. 0376 663313
In una magnifica corte risicola il museo del riso raccoglie testimonianze relative alla coltivazione del cereale nella zona del mantovano.
Scuderia di Clara Sagradi Via Verdi 3/a Borgoforte tel. 0376 649177
Raccolta relativa ai mestieri scomparsi (ciabattino, barbiere, falegname, casaro, treccia, ecc.); oggetti scolastici (banchi, pallottoliere, lavagna, cartelle di legno, sgalmare, dei primi del `900); altri oggetti provenienti dal contado mantovano.