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6 Lesser Known Museums in Italy

When visiting Italy, you can expect to be surrounded by great food, impressive architecture, rich culture, and museums filled with art and history. These are some of the things that make Italy so special, and it’s no surprise that it’s one of the most-visited destinations in the world. While many visitors rush to the well-known museums like the Vatican Museums and Uffizi Gallery, you might prefer to head off the beaten path and visit some of the lesser-known museums in the Bel Paese. Among the thousands of Italian museums, you’ll be delighted to learn about these original cultural sites:

Piaggio Museum

(Photo Credit: museopiaggio.it)

With almost 5,400 square feet of gallery space and over 250 precious objects, the Piaggio Museum in Pontedera, near Pisa, is the largest motorcycle museum of Italy and one of the most important in Europe. It has been extensively renovated in size and expanded its collections. There’s more to see here than the legendary Vespa. In Italy, the Piaggio means the history of mobility and transport: where ships, trains, airplanes, cars, scooters, and motorcycles were born. Piaggio’s affiliated brands are Vespa, Moto Guzzi, Aprilia, and Gilera. To organize your visit, enjoy a virtual tour on the website.

Giuseppe Borsalino Hat Museum

(Photo Credit: culturalheritageonline.com)

It’s possible to dedicate and fill an entire museum with 2,000 hats.  The Boralino Museum takes you on a journey through the history of Italian hats and beyond. The unique experience will take you through eight eras describing the history of this essential accessory. The Borsalino founders, Giuseppe and Lazarus, were two dreamers. In 1857, their workshop was founded and manufactured custom-made high quality men’s felt hats. Since developing into a modern manufacturing group, prized by the advertising and film industries, Borsalino has become a global brand. Hollywood has fallen in love with Borsalino and the greatest movie stars have worn their hats. Some memorable Borsalino moments are Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman’s unforgettable final scene in Casablanca (1940), Alain Delon in the 1970 gangster film Borsalino, Al Pacino in The Godfather, Robert Redford in The Great Gatsby (1974), Robert De Niro as Al Capone in Brian de Palma’s The Untouchables (1987), Warren Beatty in Dick Tracy (1990), and Michael Jackson in the video of “Smooth criminal.”

Lavazza Museum

(Photo Credit: intotheminds.com)

Since 1895, Lavazza has been an experience of Italian coffee through the ages. The museum is housed in a stunning building called the Nuvola Lavazza (Lavazza Cloud), a modern space gracing the home town of Lavazza founder, Luigi Lavazza. In this interactive museum, in the heart of Turin, you'll find five themed areas defined by sounds, images, and aromas: Casa Lavazza, The Fabbrica, The Piazza, The Atelier, the Universe. Those who want to listen to the Lavazza Museum’s audio guide go on the @lavazzamuseo Instagram account and click on highlights for a  guided visit through the five galleries of the museum.

The Stibbert Museum 

The Stibbert Museum is dedicated to Frederick Stibbert, an Anglo-Italian collectionist and businessman from the 1800s. Located in the beautiful Villa di Montughi in Florence, Stibbert entrusted the renovation of the villa and its park to the architect Giuseppe Poggi, who created  a sumptuous English park with a pond, fountains, temples and caves. This Museum offers a unique journey back in time to admire antique furnishings from around the world. The museum hosts a long list of weapons, armor, clothing and objects from different epochs and backgrounds, collected by Frederick during the course of his life. At the time of his death, the villa and collection were donated to the city of Florence. 

Salvatore Ferragamo Museum

(Photo Credit: visittuscany.com)

If scooters, hats, coffee or armor aren’t your thing, you must check out the museum dedicated to the legendary “shoemaker of dreams”, Salvatore Ferragamo. This designer shoe palace is located in the historic headquarters of Palazzo Spini Feroni in Florence. In 1923, Salvatore moved to Santa Barbara, CA to work for the American Film Company, an adventure that led him to become the most beloved fashion star in the business. Movie stars like Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman and many others were beloved clients and friends of Salvatore. The idea for the museum came from the first exhibition dedicated to Ferragamo’s personal history, which was held at Palazzo Strozzi in 1985. The exhibit toured one of the most important museums of the world, from the Victoria and Albert in London to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, before finding a permanent home as the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum in 1995.

Paper and Watermark Museum Fabriano

(photo Credit: museodellacarta.com)

Located in Fabriano in the Le Marche region, the Paper and Watermark Museum Fabriano is housed in a former Dominican monastery preserving the history and tradition of seven hundred years of local paper-making tradition. The museum is divided into sections ranging from the hand-making of paper to the display of watermarks, to the visualization of the historical journey of paper, to the stages of development of this art in the land of Fabriano and its working processes and related technology, through documents and historical-thematic files.

Barbara Benzoni

 Barbara Benzoni was born in Milan and lives between Rome and Tuscany. She is devoted to USA, the land of courage and innovation. She’s Peter's super-lucky mum and Ale's wife. Cinema, art, good food and only beautiful things are the themes of her existence. With a degree in Italian literature and a Masters in Sports Management she can both enjoys books and basketball matches. In 25 years she has been organizing sport events all over the world and she’s been lucky enough to meet the greatest champs ever. Curiosity in everyday life and people are her drivers. Her personal icon is Mohammed Ali : "It's not bragging if you can back it up".