The Museum of Mobile Tradesmen
Montelparo (Province of Fermo)
In the 60s about 2 million cars were on the roads, less than the number which is now sold every year.
But between 1920 and 1960 the velocipede was the main vehicle in Italy and even market stalls were often transported on bikes ridden by our grandfathers and great grandfathers.
This is the daily reality shown by the Museum of the Mobile Professions in Montelparo. There are 50 fully functioning bicycles on show, mostly originating from the flat, wine region of Emilia Romagna.
These were bicycle home delivery men who spent several months away from home. The bikes have quite high carrying racks, making it difficult to balance (and in fact, many of them have three wheels.) The heavy frames have thick steel cross bars, which was an economical solution at a time in which foundries were coal fuelled, and steel cost next to nothing. I was told by the guide at the museum that the workers were almost all men, as the bicycles were extremely heavy when boxes were stacked on them.
‘The little bicycle belonging to the shoe shine boy gave me a profound feeling of tenderness thinking of the children that used it. Perhaps it is for this reason that I have dedicated the entire collection to my daughter Laura’, writes Lauro Lupi, the collection owner, on his website.
It was initially set up from his private collection of about 30 bicycles in a travelling exhibition, but now has a fixed location in the Augustine and Benedictine Monastery in Montelparo, and has more than 50 bicycles designed and made to carry out the most varied range of commercial activities.
The exhibition gives a glimpse of Italian life between the 1920s and the 1960s when ingenuity, practicality, strength and hard human labour were essential.
63853 Montelparo FM, Italia
Summer: July and August, every day from 9.30 to 12.30 and 4 to 7. A guided tour is available in the mornings.
Winter: weekends and feast days, 9.30 to 12.30 and 4 to 7.30.
For pre-bookings phone the Comune di Montelparo, 0734 780141