Italy’s Unique Museums

The museums in Italy are some of the finest in the world, boasting rare artifacts and artworks, including paintings by Caravaggio, Bernini’s sculptures and the legendary works of Leonardo da Vinci.

According to the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Tourism (MIBAC), Italy’s museums and cultural sites welcomed around 44.5 million visitors in 2016, which is around a 4% increase compared to 2015 – something that is in contrast to other European countries, which have seen an overall decrease in visitors to attractions. Italy’s bucking of the trend is in part due to the effort that the MIBAC have into attracting younger people with events such as “One Night at the Museum” and  Domenical Museo, which grants visitors free entry to museums on the first Sunday of each month, as well as interactive exhibitions and better advertising on social media.

However, beyond the well-known museums, there are also many little-known museums across Italy that feature unique exhibits that make for a wonderful day out if you want to stray off the beaten track and experience something a little different.

So, if you’re eager to explore Italy’s most intriguing museums, here is our guide to the top ones to visit on an Italy holiday.


Museum of Sardinian Knives (Cagliari, Sardinia)

Sardinia is home to a wealth of museums, making it an ideal holiday destination if you want to spend time relaxing on one of Italy’s famously pristine beaches, but also discover a little of that famous Italian culture.

Of the museums in Cagliari (one of our favourite Sardinian resorts), the Museum of Sardinian Knives is one of the most unique! Here, you can find a collection of exquisite knives, including examples with beautifully decorated inlaid handles, as well as the world’s heaviest knife made by Paolo Pusceddu, which weighs a staggering 295 kg and measures just under 5 metres.


Papyrus Museum (Syracuse, Sicily)

Despite being on the island of Sicily, the Papyrus Museum makes you feel like you have stepped into ancient Egypt with its rare collection of papyrus. The museum also has fascinating exhibitions showing ancient papyrus manufacturing techniques, and tools and writing materials used by the ancient Egyptians, including palettes and brushes.


Museo del Rubinetto e della Sua Tecnologia (San Maurizio d'Opaglio, Novara)

This fascinating museum in Novara (not far from Milan) is dedicated to, believe it or not, plumbing! Through a variety of well-thought-out displays, visitors can see beautifully designed faucets from the past and trace the history of plumbing in Italy, which revolutionised personal hygiene and helped eliminate disease.


Bora Museum (Trieste)

Trieste is famous in Italy for its windy weather, with the local wind affectionately called “bora”. With the fastest local wind speed recorded as 176 kph, it seems fitting that Trieste is also home to a museum dedicated to, well, wind. At the Bora Museum you can find out how wind speed is recorded and learn more about the different wind currents and how they affect the local weather in Trieste and across the Mediterranean. There are also some enlightening displays on wind energy, making this educational museum a good choice for families or those with an interest in green energy and the environment.


Museum of the Holy Souls in Purgatory (Rome)

According to the Catholic faith, sinful souls can become trapped in purgatory until they atone or until their loved ones send prayers to hasten their ascent to heaven. This museum in central Rome, which dates back to the 1800s, boasts a somewhat bizarre collection of bibles, prayer books, tabletops and pieces of clothing that are said to have been touched by the hands of souls in purgatory, who were trying to send messages to their loved ones to pray harder for them. Expect scorched handprints and a rather eerie vibe at this little museum near the Tiber.


Crespi Bonsai Museum (Milan)

This idyllic museum on Corso Sempione in Parabiago is a place where the West meets the East, with its stunning collection of Bonsai trees. As well as Bonsai, the museum also features rare plant species, and beautifully hand-painted vases and ancient books from the Far East.


Museo dei Cavatappi di Barolo (Barolo, Cuneo)

If you’re visiting Italy on a wine tour, then this museum dedicated to corkscrews may be the perfect day out for you. It opened in 2006 and boasts an overwhelming collection of 500 corkscrews; however, the best thing about this museum is that, if you book a guided tour, you are rewarded at the end with a rather lovely glass of Barolo wine.


If you’re thinking about a cultural holiday in Italy and would like to find out more about our Italy multi centre holidays and customised Italy vacations, which can include guided tours of popular attractions, such as the local museums, please contact an expert member of our travel team on (UK) 01223 637331 or (US) 347-594-5500, or click here to send an online enquiry. You can also browse our selection of Italy multi centre holidays by clicking here.

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