The Shell and Fossil Museum
Cupra Marittima (Province of Ascoli Piceno)
Although it has a rich history of great local significance dating back to the pre-Roman era, the quiet seaside town of Cupra Marittima now exemplifies the quintessential Adriatic resort. It is a lovely place for a peaceful family seaside holiday, but what is there to do on a rainy day, or as a break from the beach?
One of the town's main attractions is the Cupra Marittima Shell Museum. The museum was founded in 1977 to make the amazing shell collection of two local brothers, Tiziano and Vincenzo Cossignani, available to the public.
Today it is home to the most important shell collection in the world, and it also offers an enormous array of fossils, many dating back over 500 million years. The 3,000 square-metre museum contains over 900,000 shells from all over the world– and a further 9 million stored for research purposes.
The display is organized into a wide variety of categories, all of them of interest. There is, of course, the shell section, with seashells in a huge variety of shapes, colours and sizes from all over the world. There is even one amazing shell weighing 200kg. There is also a section featuring fossils, including ammonites, aquatic dinosaurs (one measuring 8 metres!) and both vertebrates and invertebrates. There is a lovely display of worked mother-of-pearl, including cameos and buttons, and a selection of African and Asian masks decorated with shells.
A curious section dedicated to sharks, (also featuring deep sea crabs, starfish, coral and sea anemones) is also very popular, particularly with children.
As well as the exhibition itself, there is also a conference room seating 200, an auditorium and audio-visual hall, an extensive library, a laboratory for shell identification and photography, and a malagological ceramic tile exhibition.
The souvenir shop (with a selection of 10,000 shells to choose from) also sells mother-of- pearl articles, as well as cameos, jewellery made of shells, and books.
The museum is close to a good selection of restaurants, hotels and camp sites.
Via Adriatica Nord, 240
63064 Cupra Marittima (AP)
June: 16.00 – 20.00 every day
July and August: 16.00 – 22.00 every day
April, May and September: 15.30 – 19.00 Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday
From October to March: 15.00 – 18.30 Thursday, Saturday and Sunday
(For group and school bookings other times are possible)
Adults: 7.50 €
Students: 5.00 €
Groups: 6.00 € (minimum 30)
Over 65: 6.00 €
Under 6: free if accompanied by an adult.