A Museum Lover’s City

P.2 italiano

2018/04/04 - Written by Claudia Buscemi Prestigiacomo
Museo di Stato, photo by Goffredo Taddei
Museo di Stato, photo by Goffredo Taddei
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Situated on the slopes of Monte Titano, the ancient Republic of San Marino is a treasure chest of history, architecture, antiquity and culture. Whether you’re planning a long stay or a brief trip, the local cultural institutes offer interesting museums for visitors of all ages. Here are a few not to be missed. 

The State Museum

First established in the second half of the 19th century inside the old Palazzo Valloni, the museum moved to Palazzo Pergami-Belluzzi in 2001. It’s a simple 17th century structure in line with the old Republican palaces, situated in Piazza del Titano in the heart of the old city.

The museum was launched in 1865 thanks to a collection of archaeological finds discovered in the San Marino area as well as donations of paintings and objects from illustrious figures who, driven by their admiration for the oldest republic in the world, followed the example of Count Luigi Cibrario, consultant of the Republic and minister of the Kingdom of Italy.

With 40,000 annual visitors, the museum offers a permanent exhibition as well as entertaining activities and temporary shows. The 5,000 pieces owned and safeguarded by the museum are distributed on various levels and subdivided by typology and chronology. In general, they retrace highlights of history and local culture, ranging from archeology to numismatics (coin-collecting) to painting – to which the whole of the first floor is dedicated. “One of the most important parts of the museum is the original piece of the Domagnano treasure,” says Paolo Rondelli, director of the institute of museums. “The treasure, recovered halfway through the 19th century within the Republic territory, ended up on the antique market due to a lack of protection laws at the time,” he continues. “As well as in San Marino, original pieces are now found at the British Museum, the Louvre, Abu Dhabi, Nuremberg and the Metropolitan in New York.” 

The Philatelic and Numismatic Museum

The Philatelic and Numismatic Museum – currently being renovated and due to re-open in 2019 – has a particular importance considering that San Marino is highly valued by collectors from all over the world. “The new museum project will surprise visitors because of the presence of objects and works that, though not specifically coins and stamps, are related to them,” explains Rondelli.

The first set of stamps dates back to 1877 and depicts the official emblem of the Republic; the plumes symbolize an independence from constraints, reflecting the history of the Republic. Through the issue of new stamps dedicated to events and important figures, the Republic conveys its own history and culture. Some examples include those dedicated to the founder of the country, Saint Marinus, or those celebrating Garibaldi’s escape when Garibaldi, his wife Anita and a small army found refuge within the region.

The numismatic history of San Marino began in 1862 when the new Kingdom of Italy authorized the Republic to mint its own currency on the condition that it had the same “title and weight” as the Italian one. That rule is still respected with the Euro, even though it is not part of the European Union. The first piece dates back to 1863 and is a white-gold copper coin worth five cents.

The Museum of Curiosities

The Museum of Curiosities, established in 1989 from a private collection, is an excellent stop for lovers of eccentricity. Situated in the historic centre, it has 100 pieces exhibited including “curious news, objects and characters gathered to amaze, stimulate, teach and entertain the public,” according to Cristina Ginesi, curator and supervisor of the museum. An example of the curiosities you may find are “a 17th century rocking bath that, thanks to its shape, creates a movement of water not dissimilar to the modern-day whirlpool,” she explains.

Also present in this bizarre collection are flytraps in various shapes and models – worn in 1700 to counteract the lack of personal hygiene – and a 17th century shower, both pumping and spilling water from above and below to make a shower and bidet at the same time. In short, with traps, nose clocks and wooden baby diapers, the name of the museum is certainly accurate.

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