To call this a “museum” is perhaps exaggerated, it would be more correct to consider it a “family collection” born from the desire to recover and preserve not only objects but also a cultural heritage that had been almost completely devoured by the earthquake of ’80. Initially, attempts were made to restore the most ruined objects and subsequently to create an environment where the creative skills and work experiences of our fathers could be revived. In the course of a few years, thanks to the support of friends, together with the family collection, hundreds of objects were put together, tools and tools belonging to the chestnut growing and the rural culture of Montella.
The link between the Apennines and in particular between Montella and Chestnut is a partnership that has lasted for over a thousand years, but despite the age is still alive. The people of the Apennines owe the chestnut not only their livelihood but also a large part of their culture and history, giving in return to this splendid tree effort, ingenuity and respect.Some may think that there are other things to collect in a museum: paintings, sculptures, but we, humbly, we dedicate a company museum to the Chestnut because in the work done in our woods there is as much culture as there is in a very precious collection of art. The museum consists of three rooms retrace the history of the chestnut through the objects related to it. Among the instruments collected in the museum there are pieces of the highest quality. The museum does not exhaust its function with activities aimed at celebrating the past and history of this fruit, but looks ahead and is engaged as a documentation center.
The ethnographic collection includes the tools related to the various phases of the exploitation of the chestnut: from the cleaning of the woods to the harvesting of the fruits, to the drying, to the milling. The finds can be dated from the mid-eighteenth century to the mid-twentieth century.
The museum is an opportunity to meet the nature, culture and history of the Alta Valle del Calore, closely linked to the chestnut culture which, thanks to the wisdom of the mountain populations, has for centuries been at the heart of their economy
The museum is organized to be an educational path accessible to all, citizens, tourists, young people, teachers. The aim is in fact to bring to the public the natural characteristics of this tree, its economic and cultural values; to spread the world that is somewhat mysterious behind the chestnut and its fruits. The various processing stages related to the crop are reported: the practice of grafting on wild trees, pruning and tools that were once used. Then the various containers: panari, chestnut wood for the collection and the doors, wicker. The museum is set up inside the dryers, structures made for the drying of chestnuts with drying slab, trellis and fire chamber below.
Montella is an ancient village, at the base of whose economy we find for centuries, and still today the chestnut woods, inexhaustible source of food and wood.The pieces collected spoke of the system of life that had characterized the existence of so many people for centuries. Suffice it to say that the Montellesi laws of 1200 already preserved the chestnut tree and in their turn were based on Lombard norms dating back to at least the eighth century.
The cultural validity of the Museum is also evidenced by the interest shown by the regional schools and its inclusion in the list of Educational Farms.
In the first room there are pieces closely connected to peasant civilization.
The second room gathers the tools needed to cut down and dissect the chestnuts. Of great interest is the type of saw, stretched between a wooden frame with rectangular structure and already used in Roman times. In this room there is also a rich collection of scales, weights and units of measurement related to chestnut farming. Also on display are the tools that were used for the pruning of chestnuts and for the cleaning of the forest to prepare it for the picking of fruits. There are also tools for blacksmiths with display of latches, as well as cutting tools (hatchets, hummingbirds, sickles, etc.) indispensable to the chestnut grower and the woodcutter.
In the third room are placed the first machinery that allowed to automate the shelling of chestnuts dating back to the end of the 800. We should also mention the extraction of tannins from chestnut wood. The chestnut tannin was the first tannic extract manufactured industrially in the world. Chestnut extract is obtained by treating chestnut wood previously chopped with hot water. The main use of chestnut extract was for the tanning of hides. In this small room there are also objects for the slaughter of the pig. In the local economy, the pig was also a resource complementary to the basic wealth provided by the chestnut tree.