The museums of Ascoli Piceno: the Museums of the Papal Paper Mill
Only very few cities in Italy can offer tourists the experience of visiting a Renaissance manufacturing center: in Ascoli Piceno you can, thanks to the restoration of the ancient Papal Paper Mill, built at the behest of Pope Julius II. You can easily reach it from the Piazzarola district, walking down the Porta Cartara bridge and turning right towards the Castellano river. It was the river that provided the driving force to make the mill work. Today, thanks to a faithful and detailed reconstruction of the ancient paper mill, visitors can appreciate the ingenuity of Renaissance architects who could design industrial sites combining beauty with functionality. The structure also periodically hosts interesting workshops that offer visitors the opportunity to make themselves a sheet of the precious and sought after bambagina paper.
Thanks to modern multimedia devices, the evocative rooms once used for drying paper have been turned into the Museum of Water of Ascoli Piceno: through an interesting interactive itinerary, this section offers the opportunity to learn more about the history of human settlements and shows how water -a fundamental element for human life- can transform the landscape over time.
A large section of the Papal Paper Mill permanently houses the botanical collection of Antonio Orsini, -an Ascoli-born naturalist- who was also one of the protagonists of the so-called Risorgimento Piceno (lit. “the Resurgence of the Piceno area”). The collection is mainly focused on the Apennine territory, where the scholar identified numerous new species that were later named after him.
Temporary exhibitions of science and technology are also periodically set up here.
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AUTHOR: Prof. Stefano Papetti, art critic and historian